You may have been following my ludicrously detailed analysis of Boddington's Bitter. Probably not, if you value your time. It's a great case study, as I have so many of the brewing records.
How does subjective interpretation - that Boddies Bitter started to lose its way in the late 1970s and really went bad in the early 1980s - match up with the recipes and brewing practices?
There's nothing obvious to me. On the face of it, the recipe improved. Adjuncts were dropped, the malt percentage increased. While the hopping level remained around the same. You'd have expected the quality to have increased, or have not got worse.
Yet drinkers subjective opinions is that the beer got worse. I've not heard anyone say that it improved.
Why is this? I can't see any big change in process, other that the mash tuns and fermenters increasing in size.
A change in the yeast could be the reason. But I haven't been able to pin that down.
Was there really a big change in the beer, or was it people's perception of it? When it flipped from outsider to mainstream, was it assumed that it had sold our and turned to shit?
Some beer I drank definitely did bland out. I love Harvey's Sussex Best precisely because it reminds me of how Southern Bitter used to taste in the 1970s. While most other Bitters have become less distinctive.
Let me know if you have an explanation.
Yeast would be my guess. And old-fashioned fermentation methods.