beer reviews opinion

The John Smith’s Experiment: Part 2

Here are our notes from the first of our 18 cans of John Smith’s Extra Smooth:

Surprisingly powerful aroma rising out of the glass. Not of hops but actually quite Guinness-like if we close our eyes – the black malt they use for colour? Very light body (watery) perhaps emphasises by the very thick head. Actually a decent amount of bitterness, but accompanied by something acrid – bile? (Eew.) Definitely more acid burn than we remember. A little hint of grassiness floating over the surface. Much nicer as the weird foamy head disappears.

Verdict: if we weren’t doing this experiment, we would pour this away. Not pleasant.

That first can was fridge cold (as per the serving instructions). Next we tried it at room temperature (better, less acrid); and, over the next few days, from a variety of different glasses, both cold and at room temperature.

It looked amazing served cold in a large brandy glass — like some gleaming amber pale ale ‘van ‘t vat’ in a Belgian bar. The attractive appearance didn’t fool our tastebuds, though, and, if anything, the shape of the glass emphasised that peculiar, burning, stomach-acid sensation.

Did we start to like it more? The honest answer is, no, we really didn’t: we found it less palatable with every can we consumed. Shame — if we had, it could save us a lot of time and money.

The thing that really puzzled us, though: who says this is easy-drinking, bland beer? It isn’t — it is a downright bizarre, odd-tasting product. It could probably be improved by replacing the dark malts used for colour with more-or-less flavourless, frowned-upon caramel for starters. (See the canned bitter Cain’s brew for Co-Op — not especially characterful, but not weird.)

We did not finish the slab.

There’s one more post on this subject to go, in which we discuss widgets, Extra Smoothness, and what we did with the leftover cans. (Though maybe we should have just done one really long epic to confound everyone who has heard rumours we write concisely…?)


9 replies on “The John Smith’s Experiment: Part 2”

So your final verdict is that however it is served it is not pleasant to drink, thanks for helping others avoid trying this out – it reminds me on the Sainsbury’s Value Bitter experiment a mate and myself once tried, this in fact ended in the can down the sink as even for the sake of experimentation I was not subjecting my body to that!

Cornered by a distinct lack of hand pulled choice I braved a half of John Smiths cask a few months ago. It wasn’t too bad. There was some maltiness, not that unpleasant actually, but struggled to identify the bitterness.

I know you are to write next about widgets but I think the smell I remember and that weird icky aftertaste in the smooth cans was the result of fiendish chemicals.

Maybe you could have tried 4 smooth and 4 standard tinned? I think the smooth probably takes away what little flavour the canned priduct had.

I’ve never really understood the logic of using smooth as a descriptor or a marketing term. I could understand it if we were talking about custard, gloss paint or something equally viscous. But something with a consistency similar to water?

Years ago when you could get cask John Smiths in the west country I really didn’t mind it, but ‘smooth’ from keg or can is just plain nasty.

Well done – I always think any “beer enthusiast” should occasionally venture into the “dark side” to remind themselves what they’re avoiding.

Personally I find anything “nitro” has an unpleasant, soapy element to it – in extremis, I would prefer standard lager to nitro ale in the pub.

I dont think Nitrogen will add a flavour. And Wee Beefy “fiendish chemicals”? come on, is nitrogen really anymore sinister than co2?

I however can’t stand nitro/smooth beers because of the texture / barrier they put between your mouth and the flavours.

I’m not sure I would blame the black malt either. In the sort of percentages used to give a bitter amber hue your unlikly to taste it.

I do wonder if that is the extent to the grist, I suspect there may be some further adjuncts in there.

Also perhaps the hopping maybe at fault.

How about you complete the experiment my searching out a cask pint? Could be scary.

Everything we’ve read so far (including our email from Heineken) suggests they’re all the same recipe. Magnet seems to be the same basic recipe, too, just more so.

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