"A Pint of Bitter, Please."

Extollager

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So are we all talked out on this thread, or are there more insights to be shared?
 

Ursa major

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But if he'd walked into a rural pub that brewed its own beer well, he'd have been especially happy.
I had a summer job in the mid 1970s, even though I'd put, as a medical condition, Myopia. All this achieved was getting me a job at a hotel helping getting the bar books up to date in time for the place to be handed over to the new owners**.

The reason that the bar books were not up to date was that the person responsible was in his eighties, and he was back at work after being off sick for a few months. This was a retirement job for him: he'd previously worked for a big Burton upon Trent brewery, and one of his jobs concerned the independent pubs it had bought. (This was in Worccestershire and may have been in and around the Malvern Hills.) He was tasked to persuade the customers of pubs that had previously brewed their own beer that his employer had actually done them a favour by taking them over.

According to him, he had various ways of doing this. One was to show them some of the old brewing equipment, pointing out, for instance, where wooden vats (or whatever) were only watertight because of the creatures that had died (and had been preserved by the beer) while boring through the wood. Another was to point out that while it was true that the water used was spring water, the water came from beneath hills covered in sheep. (He knew that the effect of the sheep's "output" would have little effect on the spring water, but had hoped that his audience wouldn't.)


** - The previous owners did their best to run down the inventory which, towards the end, meant that sometimes the stock had run out and the bars went short. (This was the hot summer of 1976, and the hotel was right next to the beach.) One of the things discovered in the cellars was a 1910 bottle of Napoleon brandy, the smoothest drink I've ever tasted (not that my knowledge of alcoholic beverages is, by any measure, extensive...).
 

Vince W

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I had a summer job in the mid 1970s, even though I'd put, as a medical condition, Myopia. All this achieved was getting me a job at a hotel helping getting the bar books up to date in time for the place to be handed over to the new owners**.

The reason that the bar books were not up to date was that the person responsible was in his eighties, and he was back at work after being off sick for a few months. This was a retirement job for him: he'd previously worked for a big Burton upon Trent brewery, and one of his jobs concerned the independent pubs it had bought. (This was in Worccestershire and may have been in and around the Malvern Hills.) He was tasked to persuade the customers of pubs that had previously brewed their own beer that his employer had actually done them a favour by taking them over.

According to him, he had various ways of doing this. One was to show them some of the old brewing equipment, pointing out, for instance, where wooden vats (or whatever) were only watertight because of the creatures that had died (and had been preserved by the beer) while boring through the wood. Another was to point out that while it was true that the water used was spring water, the water came from beneath hills covered in sheep. (He knew that the effect of the sheep's "output" would have little effect on the spring water, but had hoped that his audience wouldn't.)


** - The previous owners did their best to run down the inventory which, towards the end, meant that sometimes the stock had run out and the bars went short. (This was the hot summer of 1976, and the hotel was right next to the beach.) One of the things discovered in the cellars was a 1910 bottle of Napoleon brandy, the smoothest drink I've ever tasted (not that my knowledge of alcoholic beverages is, by any measure, extensive...).
This hotel wouldn't have been in Torquay by any chance?
 

Extollager

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What an interesting account, Ursa.

The thing about the sheep and the beer reminded me of this kind of thing, which, unlike letting sheep roam around and eat grass, is not innocuous.

 

Extollager

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Referring to #3 above, is it safe, then, to say that what Ransom asked for, when he asked for "'a pint of bitter'" perhaps in 1938 was "just a weak, bland, everyday beer, which could be drunk in large quantities without ill-effect, what is known as a 'session beer' today"? "Bitters grew out of pale ale but were usually deep bronze to copper in colour due to the use of slightly darker crystal malts and less hops were needed. Hops are a stability agent to help prolong the life of a beer."

So if I want to drink what Ransom drank, what would be the best approximation today, do you think? I'm in the States but there's a good beer and wine store about an hour's ride away, so it's OK to be both general and specific.

I accept the possibility that some will say: what Ransom drank would've been beer brewed on the spot and kept in wooden barrels, and no bottled beer, which is what you are talking about, would give even a decent approximation.

But, supposing that some bottled beer might be acceptable, your advice is that the beer should not be served right out of the fridge?

Your help much appreciated. I've been curious about this for years.
 
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Danny McG

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What an interesting account, Ursa.

The thing about the sheep and the beer reminded me of this kind of thing, which, unlike letting sheep roam around and eat grass, is not innocuous.

I've seen articles like this before and have wondered "what about feeding the beans to people?"

Would we then have coffee experts who could declaim "oh yes, this is from an authentic Spaniard, not some second rate Portuguese guy"
 

Extollager

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I've seen articles like this before and have wondered "what about feeding the beans to people?"

Would we then have coffee experts who could declaim "oh yes, this is from an authentic Spaniard, not some second rate Portuguese guy"

Only on the Dark Web.
 

Randy M.

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You're talking about supermarket own brand piss!

We have a lot of craft beers in the U.S., including some that call themselves bitters. Some brewers try to emulate the recipes of ages old beer breweries -- for instance, an almost local brewery, Ommegang, makes some very good beers, like a wit and a blonde ale -- the former based on Belgian recipes. I'm betting, if you can forego the sheep poop, Extollager, you can find a reasonably close approximation. Might take some Googling, or maybe one f the all-about-beer books I've seen pop up in Barnes & Noble.

Randy M.
 

hitmouse

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Referring to #3 above, is it safe, then, to say that what Ransom asked for, when he asked for "'a pint of bitter'" perhaps in 1938 was "just a weak, bland, everyday beer, which could be drunk in large quantities without ill-effect, what is known as a 'session beer' today"? "Bitters grew out of pale ale but were usually deep bronze to copper in colour due to the use of slightly darker crystal malts and less hops were needed. Hops are a stability agent to help prolong the life of a beer."

So if I want to drink what Ransom drank, what would be the best approximation today, do you think? I'm in the States but there's a good beer and wine store about an hour's ride away, so it's OK to be both general and specific.

I accept the possibility that some will say: what Ransom drank would've been beer brewed on the spot and kept in wooden barrels, and no bottled beer, which is what you are talking about, would give even a decent approximation.

But, supposing that some bottled beer might be acceptable, your advice is that the beer should not be served right out of the fridge?

Your help much appreciated. I've been curious about this for years.
I have bought cans of Bass in a US supermarket. That would be a reasonable start, out of a can or a bottle. Bass has been a popular bottled or canned beer since the early 20 th century at least. Technically a pale ale but lots of people would call it a bitter.

courage Best or Directors would be an alternative.
 
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M. Robert Gibson

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Here's an article from a few years ago you may find of interest


Personally, I'd recommend the Black Sheep, but then I am biased since I'm from North Yorkshire ;-)
 
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Extollager

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Thank you, everyone! I wish in return I could offer you all some of the stuff I drink, such as Summit (St. Paul, Minn.) and Sierra Nevada (Chico, Calif.) products, and see what you think. We do have the Fargo Brewing Company an hour away, & my son sometimes brings up a growler of their latest.
 

Vladd67

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Here's an article from a few years ago you may find of interest


Personally, I'd recommend the Black Sheep, but then I am biased since I'm from North Yorkshire ;-)
and Theakstons, visited both breweries. Black Sheep was the more modern operation.
 

mosaix

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Referring to #3 above, is it safe, then, to say that what Ransom asked for, when he asked for "'a pint of bitter'" perhaps in 1938 was "just a weak, bland, everyday beer, which could be drunk in large quantities without ill-effect, what is known as a 'session beer' today"? "Bitters grew out of pale ale but were usually deep bronze to copper in colour due to the use of slightly darker crystal malts and less hops were needed. Hops are a stability agent to help prolong the life of a beer."

So if I want to drink what Ransom drank, what would be the best approximation today, do you think? I'm in the States but there's a good beer and wine store about an hour's ride away, so it's OK to be both general and specific.

I accept the possibility that some will say: what Ransom drank would've been beer brewed on the spot and kept in wooden barrels, and no bottled beer, which is what you are talking about, would give even a decent approximation.

But, supposing that some bottled beer might be acceptable, your advice is that the beer should not be served right out of the fridge?

Your help much appreciated. I've been curious about this for years.

Your best bet, @Extollager is to visit the U.K. and experience the stuff at first hand.

Here in Bridgnorth we have an annual beer festival (not this year though) based at the Severn Valley Railway. You could experience the delight of a pint of best bitter and a trip on a steam railway at the same time.
 
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