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Why so few bottled dark beers?

It’s always interesting to see the old adverts that pubs sometimes use to decorate their walls. A poster for Bateman’s Salem Porter from the early 90s caught our eye this week.

We assumed this beer had been discontinued because we’ve never seen it for sale anywhere, unlike their ubiquitous XXXB and Rosey Nosey Christmas beer. But, no, they still make this multiple award winning cask only beer.

Keen as we are to find it on cask one day, it would also be nice if their bottled range (which we can get very easily in corner shops in our bit of London) included this apparently brilliant beer. Perhaps they could drop one of the three very similar golden ales to make room?

Maybe they feel there’s no market? If so, that’s a shame, because we really believe dark beers (milds, porters, stouts, lagers, whatever) are going to be the next big thing. After all, what’s a cooler looking pint than one that’s pitch black?

14 replies on “Why so few bottled dark beers?”

Well nothing, obviously. But an unfortunate number of discerning drinkers seem to have a blind spot when it comes to one particular dull, chemical-laden, pasteurised black macrobrew. I reckon it discourages proper beer-makers from having a go at that segment.

I hear that brewers who’ve tried it have been visited by sinister men in black, warning them off with veiled threats.

I thought that saisons would be the next big thing but that was 2005 and I am still waiting.

My latest trip to Beers of Europe elicited from the gent behind the counter…”I sense a bit of a dark theme going on here!”. Here we are approaching summer and I’m still hankering after dark beers. Got a few Schlenkerla smokebeers and a nice mix of UK/USA stouts and porters in me trolley. Shouldn’t I be buying all summer ales and wheatbeers by now? Nah. Cheers.

Bateman’s Salem Porter is a terrific pint. Absolutely cast iron one of the best ever (my other favourite being Humpty Dumpty’s Railway Porter).

We can be seen drinking it at the Live & Let Live, Cambridge, in our Pubcast video (see link below) – we discussed it at length, but sadly in a rather boring and geeky fashion. So you see us enjoying it, but it doesn’t get talked about. Humph!

http://vimeo.com/1857395

True, true, but then I couldn’t drink many of those in one sitting…

speaking of bottle, is this not in the same ratio of how many times you see dark, (mild, porter or stouts) on, vs pale, golden or amber – when on draft.

just posing the question?

“unlike their ubiquitous XXXB”

Strange that you call XXXB ubiquitous, when it’s only permanently stocked in one pub in the whole of London (mine).

“Why so few bottled dark beers?”
A pitty as I think that english dark bottled beers usually keep their quality much closer to the cask versions’ quality whereas the paler bottled beers are most of the time a (pale, eheheh) shadow of the cask versions.

Beertruck — I agreed, dark beers bottle well, especially stronger ones. I guess it’s because a great deal of the distinctive flavour of porters and stouts comes from the malt rather than the hops, and hop character is much harder to maintain through the bottling process.

Jeff — true, but it’s also one of the beers that you most often see as a on rotation as a guest beer in boring central London pubs; it’s also available in bottled form in ASDA. So, hardly an obscurity.

Phil — yes, dark beer is under-represented across the board. As Beer Nut points out, lots of pubs think they’ve done their duty in providing for stout drinkers if they’ve got Guinness on. When I first moved to London, it used to be like that with John Smith’s Extra Smooth, which was what a lot of pubs offered to tick the box on ale. That’s changed a lot in 10 years, and most pubs now have at least one cask ale — let’s hope the same thing happens with stout/porter soon.

I tried Bateman’s Dark Lord not so long ago (very tasty) and their Victory Ale (more of a strong brown ale that a dark ale) is another very nice drop indeed. And there are quite a few bottled stouts around – I bought a ‘Dark Side’ mixed case from BeerVentures.co.uk not so long ago and there were plenty of interesting beers in there. But I do agree that it’s very easy to look the length and breadth of most supermarket real ale sections and see a lot of similarity. Maybe that’s the answer – lobby Sainsbury’s to run a winter ales promotion as well as their summer ales special and then persuade them to stock a few more dark beers as standard?

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