Brown and boring?

View of a motorway from a van.

After he’d dri­ven a 7.5 ton box van from Som­er­set to Corn­wall, via Lon­don, while help­ing us move in, we felt Bailey’s Dad deserved a pint or two and took him to one of our local pubs.

He sank a pint of prop­er job fair­ly quick­ly but didn’t seem 100 per cent con­vinced. We had a hunch that St Austell’s very pop­u­lar HSD might be more to his taste, and it seems we were right.

We’ve always been a bit dis­parag­ing of HSD – it’s what we’d call St Austell’s brown, bor­ing bit­ter and, even by the stan­dards of that type of beer, it lacks hop char­ac­ter. A sur­pris­ing num­ber of peo­ple are very loy­al to it, how­ev­er, and a pub land­lord here told us us there would be a riot if he were to replace it with the sim­i­lar­ly brown but much more flavour­some Admiral’s Ale. “They find it too light,” he said, refer­ring to some­thing oth­er than the colour.

For many drinkers in the west coun­try (and, from obser­va­tion, south Wales, too) hops are not where it’s at.

Maybe we need to let our lupulin-rav­aged taste­buds recov­er and learn to appre­ci­ate these types of beers for what they are.

8 thoughts on “Brown and boring?”

  1. Damn right! I learned to drink on dark, malty bit­ters – Buckley’s (of Swansea), then Fuller’s – and it’s tak­en me years to get the taste for these hop­mon­sters every­one raves about. And all the while I’ve had to put up with peo­ple refer­ring to prop­er beer that actu­al­ly tastes nice as “bor­ing brown beer”. Enough already! Let the malt back­lash begin! (Seri­ous­ly, you can do just as inter­est­ing things with malt as with hops – some Welsh brew­ers are doing some amaz­ing things these days, and with any luck Skin­ners’ and Wood­en Hand and St A. won’t be far behind.)

  2. Well I recal­i­brate with malty Lees Bit­ter every Sun­day. The rest of the time it has to be hop­py.

    Of course though, I do under­stand that bor­ing brown is a lot of people’s choice and that’s fine. I just like the option to buy some­thing dif­fer­ent on the same bar.

    PS Thanks for the kind com­ments about my Beer arti­cle.

  3. How about the dark and love­ly Black Prince? I wish we had milds in the US.

  4. I’ve always thought of HSD as a bet­ter-than-aver­age bor­ing brown but per­haps that’s due to my rel­a­tive lack of expo­sure to it. How any­one could pre­fer it to a Prop­er Job though, God only knows!

  5. HSD alter­nates with Otter Head on the third tap in my Exmoor local — fresh I enjoy HSD but it los­es some­thing after the first day, while I enjoy Head a lot. How­ev­er, favourite has to be Prop­er Job, always won­der­ful — Prop­er Black was pret­ty superb as well. So where about in Corn­wall are you guys now?

  6. Adri­an – I’ve emailed you but the offi­cial answer is “all over the place”.

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