The Big Red Triangle

Bass is bet­ter regard­ed as an icon of graph­ic design than as a beer.

It’s usu­al­ly found in pubs that seem stuck in a time­warp and, in our expe­ri­ence at least, is rarely drink­able, from either keg or cask. We’ve found it sour and stale every­where from grot­ty pubs with sticky car­pets to gaudi­ly wall­pa­pered ‘style bars’ in south Lon­don.

A cou­ple of weeks ago, how­ev­er, we had a pint that was in tip-top con­di­tion and were remind­ed that at its best, Bass is a com­plex beer which car­ries some inten­tion­al ‘off flavours’ with aplomb. The sul­phurous aro­ma, the hint of cider-apple and a final chalk­i­ness, are not repel­lent but absolute­ly har­mo­nious. It is rem­i­nis­cent of, and bet­ter than, recent bot­tles of Wor­thing­ton White Shield.

Until it tastes this way more often, how­ev­er, while we won’t give up on it, it’ll have to remain on our list of beers of last resort.

Simon ‘Reluc­tant Scoop­er’ John­son seems to know where to find Bass in reli­ably good nick; and those who like to try to find the break­ing point of the term craft beer will find Bass a use­ful bit of ammo.

14 thoughts on “The Big Red Triangle”

  1. I had my Bass epiphany at the Coop­ers Arms in Bur­ton just over a year ago, the beer was gor­geous, thought it ok at the Sev­en Stars in Fal­mouth as well, but the Coop­ers was the man.

  2. Depends on which of the three or four beers called Bass you mean. I quite enjoyed the (Marston’s-brewed, cask) Bass they had at my hotel when I was in Brighton a few years back. I wouldn’t have called it com­plex or White Shield-like, though.

  3. Strange­ly seem to only come across Bass in air­port bars and Rev­o­lu­tion… Usu­al­ly in mod­er­ate con­di­tion.

  4. Bass was my lunchtime pint yes­ter­day. Nut­ty, tof­fee, hop­py in a prop­er­ly bit­ter sense. If I don’t fan­cy the three guests at my local, Bass is my banker beer.

    Maybe the issue with Bass was that its ubiq­ui­ty was twinned with com­pla­cen­cy; pun­ters recog­nis­ing the tri­an­gle would buy it regard­less and licensees exploit­ed this by keep­ing rank beer.

  5. It’s some­times (about once a year) on in my local, and when it is, it’s all I drink. I’ve nev­er had a bad one.

  6. Bass is actu­al­ly a beer I will often choose ahead of many of the oth­er “usu­al sus­pects”. I can’t say I come across it very often, but I had a very good exam­ple in the Lich­field Vaults in Here­ford last year.

  7. Simon/Pub Diaries – yes, air­port bars, hotels (we had our good pint in a hotel bar), night­clubs (with cask beer!); odd places like that. It def­i­nite­ly occu­pies a fun­ny place in the mar­ket. I’m sure a lot of land­lords sell it out of nos­tal­gia or because they’re not very into beer but still recog­nise the name.

    Curmudgeon/Matthew – how do you find it tastes? Do you get what we mean when we talk about the com­plex­i­ty and not-quite-off-flavours? Or is your expe­ri­ence more like the Beer Nut’s?

  8. I would tend to agree with you about the com­plex­i­ty and the not-quite-off-flavours. It’s quite a sub­tle beer, not an in-your-face one.

    A pub broad­ly in your neck of the woods that used to be renowned for its Bass is the Dol­phin in the Bar­bi­can at Ply­mouth. His­tor­i­cal­ly it was a very pop­u­lar beer in the South-West in gen­er­al.

  9. As it hap­pens, the last pub we tried it in was a few doors up from the Dol­phin. (Where it was real­ly off and not at all pleas­ant.) Any idea *why* it was so pop­u­lar down here?

  10. I would say it was a result of the rel­a­tive­ly high pro­por­tion of free trade in the South-West. Bass was one of the very few nation­al­ly dis­trib­uted beers and was seen as some­thing of a pre­mi­um prod­uct that was bet­ter than the “local brew”.

  11. I had a pint recent­ly, but it was rank indeed, vine­gar all over. Despite the oppres­sive nature of the pub and scary land­lord i did indeed just offer it back (after a friend con­firmed it was off), exchanged for a Guin­ness with no ques­tions asked.

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