Many of the new breweries from the 1970s ‘real ale revolution’ didn’t survive the 1980s but Butcombe did, and their Bitter is, as far as we can work out, one of the few beers from that time (1978) still readily available in British pubs.
At its best (as at the Kingsbridge Inn in Totnes, Devon) Butcombe Bitter illustrates perfectly why people were so excited by real ale in the 1970s: a leaning, Falstaffian mound of froth; a rather stern, chalky bitterness; and a raw, rough-edged rudeness. Compared to some of the beers we enjoyed in Bristol (of which more later) it might seem a little fuddy-duddy or sepia-toned, but that would not have been the case when the alternative was borderline sickly-sweet, weak, smoothed-out keg bitter. (Inflation of expectations.)
“It tastes like the first time I tasted beer, when I was five, and I dipped my finger in my Dad’s pint,” said Boak.
“It smells like the cold air that used to waft out of the door of Newmarket on a summer afternoon,” said Bailey.
“It’s really… beery.”
Regardless of how it tasted, after a couple of pints, we were ready to dash our mugs to the floor, board longboats and set sail for new lands. Rargh!
Does anyone know of other beers from breweries that opened between 1972 and 1980 which are still on the market?