Taking the time to drink bad beer is a useful way to calibrate the tastebuds, correct your perspective, and stimulate the tastebuds. Sometimes, it’s just about reminding yourself that bad beer is still beer and won’t kill you.
In this post, Ghost Drinker exposes a guilty secret: many bloggers and writers use Carlsberg Special Brew as shorthand for the worst type of strong-and-nasty ‘tramp brew’, despite never having tried it. (As adults, at least.) We’ve got two choices: get a can and give it a go, or stop referring to it. We’re inclined towards the latter. After all, we’ve always got Warka Strong to fall back on.
On a similar note, Gareth at Beer Advice points out how odd it is that a beer that ceased production in the 1970s, before many beer bloggers were born, remains one of the most talked about — that is, Watney’s infamous Red Barrel, the bogeyman of bad British bitter.
Red Barrel was (we think) renamed just ‘Red’ in around 1971. Frank Baillie’s Beer Drinker’s Companion (1973) describes Red as a ‘well balanced keg beer with a burnt malty characteristic’; and the analysis in this 1972 Daily Mirror article (via Ron Pattinson’s blog) suggest a respectable strength of c.3.6% abv — not as shockingly weak as we’d imagined from reading one polemic or another.
Does anyone who’s old enough to remember drinking Red Barrel want to suggest a beer available today that might give us an idea of its flavour and character? Maybe you even have some antique tasting notes in a crumbling notebook? Or perhaps we’ve already been there with our John Smith’s Extra Smooth experiments?
Maybe we’ll just brew a batch, if we can find a convincing recipe.