Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Best beer towns (part two)

Got to get this finished. Almost forgot. Off to the US in a few hours.

Part two of an even for me less than inspiring series. I think it's about run its course with this post. Much as I love the 4-D idea, quite a bit of my past was less than scintillating, beer-wise. Pretty much always found something drinkable, except for that year in Teheran. Just an excuse for more nostalgia, really.

3. Nottingham 1978
Nottingham's pubs were mostly in the hands of three local breweries: Home Ales, Shipstone's and Hardy & Hanson. Their pubs were mostly very traditional, almost all sold cask beer and were cheap. Funny that in an area with healthy competition and few outlets for big brewers that the prices were lower than elsewhere. You only really had 6 draught beers to choose from - Bitter and Mild form each of the three. But they all had there own characteristics and were almost universally in good condition.
Beers: Shippos's Mild, Home Mild, Shippo's Bitter.
Best pubs: Queen's Hotel (very handy for the station), Lincolnshire Poacher, Sir John Borlase Warren.
Today: All three breweries are sadly gone, though Star Bitter is a recreation of Shippo's Bitter and the Shipstone's brand has recently been revived.

4. East Berlin 1987
My second Iron Curtain contender. Many hurtful lies have been told about East German beer. Mostly by those who never actually drank any of the stuff. East Berlin pubs, if you could get a seat, were great fun. The beers most generally available - Berliner Pils and Schultheiss Berliner Weisse - were pretty damn good. The latter especially. It's a beer I still dream about. Plus you could often find bottles of Porter in shops. And a couple of places sold Pisner Urquell and Budvar. That's a good enough selection for me.
Beers: Schultheiss Berliner Weisse, Burgerbräu Berliner Pilsner, any Porter
Best pubs: Feierabend Klause,
Today: Pretty much nothing. All the breweries are gone and the pubs have either disappered or change beyond recognition.

That's me done. Got posts well out past the end of my hols. Finally I can sleep.


Anonymous said...

Ron, as you say, Shippos still lives, It's brewed by an ex-Shipstone's brewer who has both a good memory and the original recipes.It's as close to the beers we grew up with as can be managed. Only the bitter is sold as Shipstone's but Belvoir Dark Horse is really ex Shippos mild. Had a couple of pints last week , lovely stuff.As is the bitter of course.
Home Ales has been resurrected , not having had any of the new brew I can't comment. Just before Home Bitter was dropped brewing was done all over the place with variable success. http://www.homeales.com/
Kimberley still exists but substantially in name only. It belongs to Greene King who claim to flavour match all their brews to the originals but in fact all their beers taste of Greene King. Must be the yeast they use.

Kieran Lyons said...

Shipstones is being brewed at Belvoir now. I had it on as a guest, didn't rate it personally, but it sold out in good time due to what I can only describe as nostalgia! I'll be sure to ask the brewer (whose beers I rate very highly and sell a lot of) how faithfully he recreated it, and may even try it again.

John Lester said...

Nottingham 1978 strikes a chord: as you say, the prices were low - probably because the big brewers had few outlets. Interesting to compare Manchester in 1978, which would certainly be one of my choices for best beer towns: as I recall, the beer sold by the independent brewers was cheap (especially, and famously, Holt's); that sold by the big brewers (especially Wilson's (Watney's) was quite a bit more expensive. But quite a lot of people drank Wilson's anyway, though it was pleasant but unmemorable, I always thought. Of course, you can still get Holt's, Hyde's, Lees and Robinson's - but my favourite Manchester beer of 1978 was certainly the sublime Boddington's Bitter (before the recipe changed) - one of my favourite beers of all time.

Anonymous said...

Kieren, I've spoken at length many times with Colin , he was a brewer there. The old brewery altered the recipe back in the days of the Greenall takeover (reduced hops) and Colin had in mind the earlier version.
His Star Bitter is pretty close to the old Shippos too.
I recall mentioning the reputed laxarive value of Shippos "if it doen't go through you in 24 hours you're a corpse" and he said, if you knew how much Epsom Salts were used in the water treatment you wouldn't be surprised.
Colin is a first class brewer who doesn't step outside his comfort zone. Traditional ales plus Oatmeal Stout are what he's good at. Plus the Belvoir Blue with Stilton whey which works surpeisingly well.