In the past, we’ve been guilty of sniping at specific beers that annoy us with their blandness, but we now think that’s probably the wrong thing to fret over.
In April 1972, consumer magazine Which? surveyed the most popular keg bitters on the British market.
…none smelled very strongly in the glass – none was either unpleasant or very pleasant. As far as taste went, the overwhelming impression of our tasters was that none of the keg bitters had any very characteristic taste… we also carried out a standard laboratory test for hop – bitterness. These results confirmed how similar the keg beers were.
The problem here is the similarity between the products.
What we, as consumers, need to be wary of is a homogeneous market which offers us no real choice. Bland keg bitters might not be to your taste, but it’s no bad thing that they exist as part of a varied landscape which also includes stronger, darker, lighter, more flowery, lagered, Belgian, American and downright wacky beers.
We haven’t yet seen an original copy of Which? from April 1972 but, fortunately, Christopher Hutt quotes from this article at length in his The Death of the English Pub (1973).