A New Axis: Classic | Standard | New-Local

A pint of beer.

Where are we in the cycle? At the point where seeing Elland 1872 Porter, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Thornbridge Jaipur, Fyne Ales Jarl, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted and Bank Top Mild on offer in our local is tremendously exciting – that’s where.

Andy Hamil­ton, who writes about booze and for­ag­ing, and for­ag­ing for booze, is pro­mot­ing a book and con­vinced the Drap­ers Arms to hold a mini fes­ti­val fea­tur­ing some of the beers it men­tions.

The Drap­ers has a pret­ty seri­ous com­mit­ment to local beers, list­ing dis­tance trav­elled for each beer, and aver­age dis­tance for the entire list, on the menu black­board.

In fact, that’s a trend reflect­ed across Bris­tol: it’s not unusu­al to walk into a pub and find the whole beer list made up of beers from with­in the city bound­aries.

The beer list at the Drapers Arms.

That can be great – we’ve dis­cov­ered some impres­sive West Coun­try brew­eries this way, and it’s cer­tain­ly fuelling the Bris­tol brew­ery boom – but is also mild­ly frus­trat­ing.

Let’s con­sid­er Jaipur. It’s a beer that’s well into its sec­ond decade and has gained the sta­tus of a clas­sic. In bot­tles, it’s rea­son­ably easy to find in super­mar­kets. But how often do we get to drink it on cask? Twice, maybe three times a year? And that’s most­ly in Wether­spoon pubs.

Old Peculi­er is anoth­er beer we’ve encoun­tered on cask only a hand­ful of times in more than a decade of beer blog­ging, and which we’re hop­ing will still be on when we pop round to the Drap­ers after post­ing this. We felt a gen­uine thrill when we saw the A-board out­side the pub announc­ing its arrival last night.

All this has made us think that as well as our long­stand­ing wish for more pubs to make a point of hav­ing one of each colour (brown, yel­low, black) per­haps there ought to be anoth­er axis: big clas­sic + stan­dard + local/new.

We can imag­ine going into a pub with that kind of mix and start­ing on the clas­sic, try­ing the new­com­er, and then decid­ing where to stick for a third round depend­ing on how the first two tast­ed.

In the mean­time (this kind of thing is always fun) what’s your sug­ges­tion for a line-up which cov­ers brown/yellow/black and clas­sic/­s­tan­dard­/lo­cal-new?

Old Peculi­er, Lon­don Pride and Bris­tol Beer Fac­to­ry Nova would do us nice­ly, for exam­ple.

5 thoughts on “A New Axis: Classic | Standard | New-Local”

  1. Depends what’s “allow­able” in each cat­e­go­ry. Can see much argu­ment as to whether some­thing is a ‘stan­dard’ or a ‘clas­sic’; or how long a beer has had to be around before it moves from ‘new’ to ‘clas­sic’ :-).
    Skin­ners Bet­ty Stogs or Harvey’s Sus­sex Best – stan­dard / brown. Am lucky to have two rea­son­ably local pubs, one with Bet­ty Stogs, the oth­er with Sus­sex Best, always on, and which keep them in great con­di­tion.
    Blue Mon­key Infin­i­ty or Burn­ing Sky Auro­ra – yel­low / new.
    Elland 1872 Porter (or Sarah Hugh­es Dark Ruby if it sneaks in on the colour chart!) – clas­sic / black.

    Local is a lit­tle more prob­lem­at­ic. Have some good brew­eries in Hert­ford­shire, but (IMO) no great ones. Favourite go to beer brewed with­in the coun­ty is Mad Squirrel’s Lon­don Porter, but that would throw out the above list­ings – new / black.

  2. I’ve giv­en up on my local (N Lon­don) craft place because of its fetishi­sa­tion of the new & weird. They’ve dropped the one reli­able local brew­ery they used to stock in favour of their own home­brew, which tastes as if it’s made by some­one who’s nev­er actu­al­ly drunk or enjoyed real ale.

  3. Yeah, I’m always quite excit­ed when I go into a pub and actu­al­ly see some­thing I think of as “clas­sic” rather than the usu­al array of vari­ably shon­ky local trad micros. And it hap­pens depress­ing­ly sel­dom.

    I won­der how much of this is eco­nom­ics, though? The gos­sip I hear local­ly is that the SLTMs sell casks at seri­ous­ly bar­gain base­ment prices and the local real ale crowd are hap­py enough with them to keep buy­ing it, so why is a land­lord going to pay a pre­mi­um for some­thing like Sum­mer Light­ning, Jaipur or Old Pecu­liar?

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