real ale

Advice, please


What do Wells and Young’s Bombardier and Greene King IPA have in common?

They’re both brands with a reputation for being bland, boring and often badly kept, as the token gesture towards ‘real ale’ in mediocre pubs.

And yet both are listed by Michael Jackson in his 500 Beers book, and other bloggers and beer writers have started to question their knee-jerk dismissal, suggesting that they are not so much bland and boring as straightforward and nonetheless well crafted.

So, we want to give them another shot but, to be fair about it, we want to make sure we drink them in the best possible condition.

So, where can we find absolutely the best pint of each in or near London?

10 replies on “Advice, please”

Bland and boring? Well that depends if your comparing them to the rest of the world of craft beer or just keg mega-brands. For me boring is an accurate description.

I’m not sure it’s a question of finding absolutely the best pint, more of having the determination to drink a few of them on a row.

They’re the Ford Escorts or Vauxhall Astras of the ale world. OK but unexciting. Having said that, I enjoy Bombardier when its in good nick. The North Star in Leytonstone always seems to have it on, and its generally a safe bet if their other pumps are having a bad day.

I only have hopelessly out of date suggestions. Four years ago The Mitre on Craven Terrace in Paddington served a nice pint of Bombardier. It had a nice restrained fruitiness. Hopheads wouldn’t be too keen.

Again dated information but I had good luck with Youngs at the Lamb in Bloomsbury but reviews I have read of late have not been encouraging. I liked Youns Ordinary enough to try and clone it at home and found I like my own version much more.

“What do Wells and Young’s Bombardier and Greene King IPA have in common?” Evidently they both sold Waggledance. I hadn’t looked at the Wells/Youngs website in years and see that Waggle is now a Wells beer. It appears to be lighter in color and if I remember correctly is now reduced ABV (from 5 to 4.5). Has this beer changed? It seemed to be universally maligned when it was brewed in Wandsworth (although I preferred it to Fullers Honey Dew).

I guess I’m a hophead, so neither beer excites me. However, I’ve had a decent pint of GK IPA in the past. I think the problem is these two brands are among those most likely to be seen as token ales in pubs where beer quality is far from the highest priority, hence the cementing of a bad reputation.

I maintain that Bombardier is no good though. Yuck.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a “good” pint of GK IPA, in much the same way as I’ve never had a bad pint of GK IPA.

(Much like a pair of Donnay socks from Sports Direct)

It is what it is, and I’ll always drink it over and above a lager (not in a snobby way), token ale or no token ale, unless it’s a boiling hot day.

Bombardier, however, I really can’t stand…

The Green King I really don’t know as I have never had a pint which wasn’t socky in taste still trying though. I can only suggest for the Bombardier a good Wells Youngs pub would have a decently good pint on although they are difficult to find as most of them seem to promote wine over beer. The Princess Alexandra in Wimbledon did a good pint of it according to my partner when we went in there for lunch a few weekends back.

Knut, maybe Michael Jackson is gone but as well a beer ‘sliding downhill’ could it be that tastes are changing hence a beer isn’t liked or rated nowadays but one thing I have found is that people tend to dismiss some beers without ever trying them, let alone searching out a tip top condition pint of it to actually try it, they just go along with the popular view without checking themselves.

The Red Lion in Bromley is about as good as GK gets in my experience. However, they also do terrific Harveys and guest ales so I’m rarely tempted.

Bombardier? Can’t help you.

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