We couldn’t find much to love in John Smith’s Extra Smooth, and we really did try. Given the uncontroversial recipe, we have to assume the cause of the problem is that widget — that little ping-pong ball which injects nitrogren into the beer on opening to create the weird, everlasting ‘creamy’ head.
Does it add flavour? We don’t think it should, but it probably does change our perception of the flavours, emphasising some and dampening others — an extreme version of the effect we notice when drinking a given beer both with and without sparkler.
But what to do with the remaining cans? Well, the everlasting creamy head has its uses. See that picture above? That’s a pint glass of water topped off with 60ml of JSES. It will put a head on anything, with only a small hit to the flavour.
When we opened a bottle of homebrewed stout and found it completely flat (it needed a few more weeks) we added the tiniest amount of JSES and, as if by magic, found ourselves with a far more appealing glass of beer.
A terrible, snobbish though has also occured to us: we frequently have visitors who don’t care much about beer — perhaps we can fob it off on them?
That’s the end of our John Smith’s experiment, but it has given us another idea: at some point soon, instead of slagging off JSES, we’ll taste all the readily available canned bitters blind and try to identify the best.