News, Nuggets and Longreads 13 January 2018: Rawtenstall, Lincolnshire, Mars

Here’s everything that’s grabbed our attention in beer and pubs in the past week from jam sandwiches to Mars exploration, via a few rounds of India pale ale.

The ‘World Cup Of…’ has become a pop­u­lar Twit­ter meme, allow­ing users to vote for their favourite bis­cuit­s/­film­s/­sub-species in a series of rounds until only the best are left stand­ing. Now, south Lon­don relaxed-lifestyle blog Desert­er has used just such an exer­cise to iden­ti­fy the top ten pubs on its manor. You might not agree with the final round-up, espe­cial­ly if you know that part of the cap­i­tal well, but there’s no doubt­ing that it’s a handy starter set and plen­ty to keep any vis­i­tor busy for a long week­end.


Jam sandwiches.

Katie at The Snap and the Hiss has done some­thing we’ve always want­ed to and vis­it­ed Fitzpatrick’s Tem­per­ance Bar in Rawten­stall, Lan­cashire:

Mr Fitzpatrick’s OG mix­tures have been brewed since 1836 and as far as any­one is will­ing to reveal, the recipes haven’t changed since the fam­i­ly moved to Eng­land in 1899. The menu is exten­sive, with these fab­u­lous Fitz­patrick cor­dials at the cen­tre of it all.… I chose a cold fizzy Rhubarb and Rose­hip, which was unrea­son­ably deli­cious. Yes, it would be sen­sa­tion­al with a dash of vod­ka, but alone it was total­ly pass­able as a social drink. I also picked a Hot Tem­per­ance Tod­dy, which is Blood Ton­ic, lemon and hon­ey. I was imme­di­ate­ly cured of every ill­ness known to West­ern med­i­cine and could sud­den­ly sing in a per­fect sopra­no.

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Bottled Milds 3: Fenland &c.

The third batch of milds in our taste-off are from Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Lincolnshire and we bought all three from Beers of Europe.

All three are tra­di­tion­al dark milds with­out twists or spe­cial ingre­di­ents:

  • 8 Sail Brew­ery Mill­wright Mild (3.5%, 500ml, £2.29)
  • Elgood’s Black Dog (3.6%, 500ml, £1.99)
  • St Peter’s Mild (3.7%, 500ml, £1.99)

8 Sail Brewery Millwright's Mild.

The label for 8 Sail’s Mill­wright Mild (Lincs) isn’t slick­ly designed and has the look about it of what we call ‘gift shop beer’. Pop­ping the cap released a fierce hiss and we braced for a gush­er but, for­tu­nate­ly, it behaved. The car­bon­a­tion was notably high pro­duc­ing a tall, foamy head of tight bub­bles. (It had dropped back a bit by the time we took the pho­to above.) It had what we’re begin­ning to think of as the clas­sic look for dark mild: red against the light, almost black in the glass.

That high car­bon­a­tion and fizz was a har­bin­ger, though: some­thing in this bot­tle had eat­en through every last bit of sug­ar and turned the beer sour. Once we’d got over its fail­ure as easy-drink­ing mild this pre­sum­ably acci­den­tal result made for a beer that was inter­est­ing in its own right. It was a kind of dark gueuze – a Black For­est gateaux of cher­ry and cocoa flavours, with a dab of tar-like trea­cle. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, all that was too much com­plex­i­ty for the rel­a­tive­ly light body to bear. This isn’t a con­tender but we might try blend­ing the sec­ond bot­tle with, say, Mann’s Brown, to mel­low it out.

Elgood's Black Dog.

Elgood’s Black Dog (Cambs) gave off a sur­pris­ing­ly intense aro­ma on open­ing – a puff of green­house straw­ber­ries, or of Nesquik milk­shake pow­der. It occu­pies the red-black bor­der­lands and is topped with a tan head.

It has a rel­a­tive­ly pow­er­ful flavour, too – tra­di­tion­al, yes, but with every­thing turned up a notch. Roasti­ness, a touch of plum­my red wine and rich, dark choco­late bit­ter­ness bring to mind a gen­er­al impres­sion of the porters we tast­ed last year. Dark mild may not his­tor­i­cal­ly be ‘baby porter’ but that is clear­ly how some mod­ern brew­ers approach it.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we could not agree on this beer. The stick­ing point was an over­ripe fruit aro­ma that Bai­ley could bare­ly detect but which Boak found dis­tract­ing and off-putting: ‘Like cheap foam banana sweets.’ Though we are try­ing to nar­row the field, we think it deserves a sec­ond chance and so (only just) it’s a con­tender.

St Peter's Brewery Mild.
Anoth­er brew­ery which has always divid­ed us is St Peter’s (Suf­folk). In the ear­ly days of our inter­est in beer, their dis­tinc­tive oval green bot­tles were easy to find in super­mar­kets and cor­ner shops and gave us access to a wide range of his­toric and quirky styles such as porter and fruit beer. Boak has always been a fan, Bai­ley has not.

Once again, we found our­selves with glass­es of red-brown-black, topped with well-behaved, just-off-white foam.

The aro­ma was restrained – just a touch of charred malt – and it tast­ed like anoth­er ses­sion stout with severe bit­ter­ness and a sug­ges­tion of burnt-toast. There was a bal­anc­ing sweet­ness, though, enhanced by a sort of almond essence nut­ti­ness. That might, we though, become cloy­ing over a ses­sion, but we both enjoyed it a lot (lots of ‘Mmm­m­m­mm!’ and ‘Ooh!’) so it’s a def­i­nite con­tender.

UPDATE: We post­ed this in a rush while head­ing off to work and got the geog­ra­phy wrong. Apolo­gies.