Tuesday, 12 July 2011

The 50 best beers?

Pete Brown has produced a list of the 50 Best British Beers for the Morning Advertiser. As with all such lists, it will inevitably provoke much discussion and a few raised eyebrows. “Draught Guinness! What’s that doing there?”

I counted them up and reckoned that over the years I had drunk about half the beers he lists. It’s perhaps disappointing that there’s nothing on the list from either family brewers or micros in Greater Manchester and Cheshire, not even Robinson’s Old Tom.

More surprising is that nothing is included that could broadly be described as “mild”, which fifty years ago was the staple drink in English and Welsh pubs. Bateman’s DM or Brain’s Dark could surely have been included, or even, to annoy the tall poppy haters, Banks’s.

If he’d wanted to be really mischievous he could have included Carling too ;-)


  1. Tetley's Dark Mild is a fine example, but I'm guessing that's gone the way of the dodo by now.

    I guess the problem with a lack of milds is not that it isn't good, but it's not GREAT.

    Not enough brewers are making it. Healthy competition always produces a better product.

  2. I dont think being 'mischevious' was his main intention. Lets leave that to certain, ahem, bloggers. ey mudgie!

  3. At one time, Highgate Mild would have been a contender, but that's now gone to the great fermenting vessel in the sky.

    Robinson's Hatters is still popular around Stockport, but I'd hesitate to describe that as a "great beer".

    Hydes Owd Oak is pretty good.

    @Neil: one could argue that including Draught Guinness is being a bit mischievous ;-)

  4. These look very similar to the ones that Roger Protz put forward!! Middle of the road choices for Joe Public!! I'm not a beer fascist by any stretch of the imagination but there is a great deal of fantastic beers out there that never get a mention. I was asked "what is your favourite beer?" the other day to which my reply was "I don't have a favourite beer. It changes" I make no apologies for that statement. Why don't these publications give us a chance to have our say, not just the Beer Writers!?

  5. I think his point about Guinness is a valid one though. It's a last resort that is better than bland macro lager. It's the best of a bad bunch. If all else fails, a Guinness will do.

    That said, if there is anything even remotely decent on the bar i'd opt against it! Would still take a pint of something bog standard like Greene King IPA on cask over a nitrokeg Guinness

  6. Is "the best of a bad bunch" justification for inclusion, though?

    This poll showed Draught Guinness as the favoured distress purchase for cask ale drinkers.

  7. I know what you mean. It isn't one of the top 50 best beers in the uk, because as we've already discussed if there are any even half decent cask beers on the bar (so 1000s of other beers) we wouldnt choose guinness.

    The fact is though, even in the worst bars, Guinness is usually still an option. Plus its a gateway beer in some ways. People who drink guinness are more likely to try a stout, porter or mild than people who drink carling are.

    So I agree it isnt a top 50 beer by any stretch of the imagination, but in many ways I can understand Pete's reasons for its inclusion.

  8. "middle of the road choices for Joe Public"

    Yeah, cos the last thing the pub trade (for whom this list was written) wants is the public coming in to pubs to drink beer. That would be a TERRIBLE idea.

    Still, surprised you're dismissing brewers like Camden, Thornbridge, Brew Dog, Dark Star and Kernel, and beers such as Adnams Celebration, Harviestoun Ola Dubh and Harveys Imperial Stout as middle of the road, Anon. I think peehaps you've answered your last question perfectly. And I don't recall any lagers, keg beers or beers from non-micros in Roger's selection.

    Mudgie, fair shout on neglecting Mild. The truth us when I was asked to do this, I sat and wrote a list of the beers I loved and got to 43 without pausing. There wasn't a mild among them because there wasn't a mild that was top if mind. It was purely subjective and I just haven't had much mild recently.

    Funny Robinson's gets a mention - I was doing some work for them at the time and deliberately excluded them as potential conflict of interest.

    I did try to achieve a balance of big and small, brown beer and new beer, and not give any individual brewer too much of the action. As such, while I stand by every choice, it is written with a specific audience in mind. If it was a true reflection of my drinking habits, it would be far less diverse, more 'extreme' and a much more monotonous read.

    And yes, it was a bit mischievous - deliberately something for everyone to get aerated about. But they're still serious choices, even Guinness - for the reasons Neil says.

  9. Haven't seen list. Don't want to see list. But bet the brown envelopes have got the appalling Worthies White Shield
    in there. Again.

  10. Blimey I've got a lot of catching up to do, never heard of most of them.
    Badger Golden Champion is my favourite but I've never seen it in a pub.

  11. Anonymous 13:08, you're entitled to your opinion, but if you think White Shield is "appalling" and it only appears on best-beer lists because brown envelopes change hands, then my opinion of you is that you're a prat.

  12. FWIW, although I may have the odd quibble, I think Pete has done a pretty good job of balancing new wave beers with more established ones. A list that consisted entirely of beers that only aficionados had ever heard of would simply be dismissed out of hand.

    Another slight quibble is that the category of traditional "strong bitters" around the 5% mark like Abbot, Directors and Batemans XXXB (pre strength cut) doesn't get much of a look-in.

    And, while I thought Abbot Reserve on cask was good, in bottle it comes across to me as far too sweet and sickly. I would say Old Crafty Hen is a far better bottled beer.

  13. Putting Duechars IPA or Marstons Pedigree anywhere near a list of top ales is always going to provoke mock outrage. I think the inclusion of Guinness just shows what a populist Mr Brown actually is. In the absence of ale, I make a point of turning around and walking out of an establishment where it is unreasonable not to find a single ale. How is this guy the most followed drinks blogger ? I'm not interested in his frankly corporate opinions.

  14. Agree Luke. I'm sure these beer blog guru's start off with good intentions, but if they're good enough and eventually attract a large enough following, the freebies start to
    roll in, guest brewday spots are arranged, monies provided to cover tedious historical sailing trips etc etc, they will lose the impartiality they set out with in the beginning. That's when they'll start bleating about how we shouldn't be all so snobbish about all the mass produced crap.
    Bitches on a lead.

  15. I agree. Once Moulson Coors have paid for six or seven of your boozy lunches, your opinion of them might just soften up a little. I'm not a total beer snob, and not all mass produced drinks are rubbish. London Pride is a nice beer still, but Bombardier and Spitfire are wholly unremarkable nowadays. Lets not talk about DoomShite or GreenKing, shall we. :)

    AND I take issue with people say9ing that Guinness is a gateway option towards actual ale. It is categorically not. in the 'Nubes which I used to run, when people were told that we didn't stock Guinness, 805 of them would opt for Carling, despite us offering them, a choice of seven ales, or three excellent bottled stouts. Guinness drinkers are no more likely to switch to ale than are Carling drinkers.


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