Friday, 19 September 2008

Heading South

I’m a Northerner, and in many respects a strong defender of the North of England, but one thing I have little time for is the “traditional Northern head” on beer, which in reality is a tradition that goes back no more than two or three decades. Pulling beer through a tight sparkler and serving it with a thick collar of foam can all too easily knock the life out of it and blunt its flavour.

So I always enjoy a visit to the South of England, particularly the South-West, where beer is typically served with a notably shallower and thinner head. When it’s fresh and well-kept, this allows the flavour and character to shine through in a way they can never do with a Northern head, although it must be admitted that it also does nothing to disguise flat, tired beer.

Particular praise must go to the White Hart in Cheddar which on a recent visit served up a very tasty pint of Butcombe Bitter – one of my favourite beers – after a slow and trying journey through the roadworks over the Avonmouth Bridge.

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