Friday 30 June 2023

Shit 1970s beers - your opinions

When posting all this stuff about beer in the 1970s, I've added comments about the beers I drank myself. When I can remember. It was a very long time ago.

Lots of the beers in the lovely, lovely tables I've been posting,  Ones I never drank, can't remember drinking, or can't remember the taste.

What would be great - and admittedly, great for a putative book - would be for people to add their own experiences and critiques of the beers in the tables. 

I've had some pretty decent feedback. More would be great. For scientific purposes, if nothing else.

Recording this stuff now before my generation dies off. That's why I'm doing this. Noting down all the boring mundanities. 

All your comments on these crappy, and not crappy beers, of the 1970s are incredibly welcome as long as I can steal them.

I'm still looking for a good photo of a sideways glass diaphragm pump.

Any comments about any beer from the 1970s, very welcome. I'm not going to beg. But , , falls to knees .. please tell me your experiences of drinking Websters in 1974.

Or Hemingways, Would love to hear from someone who drank their beer.


Chris Pickles said...

Websters was the very first beer I drank a whole half pint of. It was 1969 was 17 and disliked the taste of beer. I wouldn't even drink shandy. But I looked in the fridge one day and there was a bottle of Webster's Green Label. It was odd because only my dad could have put it there, and I never knew him to drink Websters. He was a Tetley's man through and through, like the vast majority of Bradford beer drinkers. So I thought, Dad won't miss this, I'm 17, it's time I got used to beer, and I snaffled it with a clear conscience. And I was right, he had put it there for me to find.

Well I got it down OK, I can still remember the taste. It was't particularly nice but I'd broken the ice and soon acquired the taste for beer. In those early days I knew nothing about the difference between cask and keg, and usually drank awful stuff like Double Diamond, Watneys Red... and keg Websters, which had a nasty strong acrid aftertaste. To be fair keg Tetley's was no better - worse if anything, but Tetleys was mostly cask in pubs, Websters cask was as rare as hens teeth. Websters had lots of pubs in Bradford but the ones selling cask could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Thats in the whole city limits, not just the centre.

When I discovered cask Websters (not until the late 70's) it was quite a revelation. There was a light mild, and a bitter. There was a dark mild but you had to go to Halifax for that. The light mild was very pleasant, quite a gentle taste but refreshing, altogether a nice drink. The bitter (Pennine Bitter) could be funky. It had quite an intense citrussy flavour, reminded me a bit of grapefruit. That sounds a bit like a modern IPA type but was nothing like it really - but that was how I would have described the taste.

Also it could have an aroma which was like the smell of unwashed wool that you got when walking past a woollen mill. I imagine it must have put a few people off but I thought it was very appropriate for Bradford and quite liked it. There was quite a bit to the bitter - more interesting than Tetley's but not nearly so easy drinking.

petalia paul said...

growing up in Suffolk I was drinking Greene King when the IPA and Abbot were good not like now,Tolly Cobbold was a bit variable but when good the Mild was great as Adnams was the best and I personally consumed many pints of their Mild.
Of the other beers around it was nearly all keg Watneys (former Steward & Patterson and Bullards pubs) Whitbread (former Lacons) and some Trumans in the south of the County with a little Tartan and Mc Ewans in free houses.
I rarely went in to these pubs and if I did drank Guinness bottles

We were probably lucky the amount of real ale available was quite high compared with most places,expecially north of us in Norfolk where it was nearly extinct due to Watneys domination

Anonymous said...

Hi Ronald.

I cant share anecdote on British beer from the 70s, as i was not born yet and being from a different country.

Regarding the "sideways glass diaphragm pump". Found this photo through some google image search. No idea if its a good one.

It's from some blog of (i assume) older guy waxing about bygone british beer culture. So Copyright or conflict of interest might apply.


Phil said...

My first two beers - Fuller's London Pride from a polypin (1976) and Buckley's Bitter on cask (1977) - were the nectar of the gods. My third - Watney's Red (also 1977) - was (in the immortal phrase) "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike" the first two; I remember thinking at the time that it was as if somebody had plugged a "beer" cartridge into a Sodastream machine. I was instantly converted to supporting CAMRA, even though I was still below drinking age.

A few years later I moved north and was prevailed on to try Boddington's bitter; it didn't make much impression on me, and I think it must already have lost a lot of what made it great.

garden hermit said...

Love your blog Ron and I'm proud to be the owner of an original (as far as I know) copy of your Vintage Beer book. I'd love to help you with this, but regret that my mind is a blank on 70s beers, even though I drank enough of them - especially in the second half of the 70's after I reached 17 (years old).

I know I drank Websters, Stones, Wards, Watneys, John Smiths etc etc, but perhaps it's because they all tasted similarly rubbish, that I have no distinct memories of any particular one - except perhaps Stones Bitter, which was my 'staple' beer, which was ok, probably because I was acclimatised to it, but still not particulalrly memorable.

If it wasn't the banal similarity that was so forgettable, maybe it is that they were all so terrible in their own way, that my memory has erased the experience completely.

I can remember a wonderful pint of cask Theakstons Old Peculier, at a country pub me and my mates had walked 5 miles down dark country lanes to get to, like an oasis in a beer desert, but that wouldn't be much help to you!

Best wishes, Glyn

Steve said...

Hello. So interesting to see a mention of the glass diaphram pump in this blog. In 1974 the Downs Hotel in Woodingdean near Brighton, Sussex ( was a Brickwoods tied house and I had a pint of Best served from a diaphram pump. Of course Brickwoods best would go on to be marketed as Whitbread Pompey Royal when Whitbread took over Brickwoods and a fine pint it was to at 5%. I still brew it today and it is truly "real ale".

I often see old Brickwoods pubs, usually converted into flats but still showing the Brickwoods name as I travel around Hampshire.

Love the blog. Thanks. Steve

Ron Pattinson said...


I'm sure most younger drinkers would have no idea what a diaphram pump was. I wonder if there are any still in use?

Steve said...

I have never seen another. I checked at the Downs Hotel and the diaphram pump is long gone.

For the information of your readers I've recently brewed your 1952 Mackeson 3.47% abv recipe as I drank the commercial version from the mid 70's through to the late 80s and loved it and in my opinion it's spot on for the Mackeson I used to drink. The recipe captures that elusive Mackeson taste that distinguishs it from other milk stouts.

Thanks again. Steve