real ale

Memorable Beers #12 — Birthday Sophistication

By Boak.

It’s 2002 and I’m in a central London chain pub celebrating my birthday with a mixture of work colleagues and friends from the real world. At this time, you’ll normally catch me drinking Foster’s or bloody marys but it’s my round (hey, thanks, so-called friends!) and one of my colleagues asks for a Deuchars IPA. I am so intrigued by the name that I order one as well.

It’s quite nice – every bit as refreshing as the lager but with some interesting flavours that I find I want more of.

Over the course of the next year, I drink more, and start looking out for it in other pubs. My conversion to real ale has begun.

We’ve posted about how disappointing Deuchars usually is. Either it’s got worse or I grew out of it.

pubs real ale

Deuchar's now synonymous with boring pubs?

Deuchar's IPA pump clip
Deuchar's IPA pump clip

Last week, I walked past a nice looking pub in an old Victorian building and thought: “This looks interesting.” Then I looked through the window and saw the pumps on the bar:

  • Fuller’s London Pride
  • Deuchars IPA
  • Wells and Young’s Bombardier.

My heart sank. “This is a boring pub,” I thought. “Those beers will probably also be in really bad condition.” I walked on.

All three of those beers were real ales, and all three have their fans (we’re partial to Pride ourselves). This pub would qualify for CAMRA’s pub guide, too.

So why the instinct to pass on my part? I guess I’ve been to too many pubs offering that particular line-up and been disappointed. It’s a learned response.

Deuchars, in particular, is a sad case. It used to be a beer I enjoyed, but it’s so often poorly kept and stale that I don’t bother anymore.

I suspect this is a result of pub company policy — “we serve real ale in our pubs because, but we don’t really care about it, or expect our managers and staff to”.  It’s bad because it can really tarnish some good brands. Timothy Taylor’s Landlord is getting dangerously close to being included in this list, which would be a pity as it is fabulous.

We had a half-decent pint of Deuchar’ IPA in the Speaker in Westminster a few weeks ago. Any other suggestions as to where we can find it on good form? Or is it just a terrible beer these days?