Is your local offering enough choice of real ales? Its a popular topic of debate down the boozer. Heard it many times and I usually offer my 'two pennies worth'.
They usually bleat on about too many blonde/light ales and not enough darker beers. Fair comment indeed. However, I will always argue that the light/blonde ales have played a major role in the surge in popularity of real ale. Its certainly worth, in my opinion to have a little less choice sometimes, in exchange for real ale's growth in popularity.
Yes, I can understand a little whinge when you go into a pub and there are four light beers, two red bitters and no darker ales, such as a porter or a stout. However, I feel that is the exception rather than the rule.
I have certainly noticed recently that there has been more choice.Certainly have seen more mild beers popping up, along with the porters. That of course adds up to a great selection, when you have the light ales and amber bitters in the line up. There were two mild beers on at my local only last week. I think you will agree, that not too long ago, that would have been a non starter.
I sometimes wonder what my dream line up would be. It is an impossible question to answer really. However, if a landlord had seven hand pumps for example and asked me what to pull through them, I feel an ideal choice would perhaps be, two light beers, two amber/red beers, a porter, a mild and a cider.
Now what ales would spring to mind. Well, the light beers I would include, would be a Wharfebank Wispa. A full flavoured,fruity IPA. Lancaster Blonde would be another.A superb golden,aromatic ale. Another favourite is the Kelham Island Pale Rider, a strong pale ale, with a long fruity aftertaste. Morecambe brewer, Cross Bay do some cracking light beers. Their Nightfall is a lovely,smooth,hoppy beer at 3.8%. The Saltaire Blonde and the Moorhouse's Blond Witch are two more classic light beers. I love their smooth,fruity,hoppy flavours. I would have 'em all on!
Two of the bitters I would choose would be Black Sheep Best Bitter and Timothy Taylors Landlord.Quite simply because they are made from the finest ingredients and have that wonderful hoppy flavour. Golden/amber bitter beers, at their finest. Mind you, Ilkley's Mary Jane completes a hat trick of Yorkshire delights. The micro-brewer has a fast growing reputation for producing a fine range of ales.Their Lotus IPA would be a permanent fixture on the bar.Bursting with fruit flavours and comes with a healthy 5.6 ABV!
It's also good to see more mild beers on the bar.Once an endangered species. I feel its making a comeback.Thwaites brew a tasty one. Nutty Black is delicious. A sweet beer, with a nice,roasty aftertaste. For a light mild, well, I am a little biased here. The Timmy Taylors Golden Best has to be one of the nicest, easy drinking, session ales. It is so clean tasting and refreshing. Amber mild at its very best.
The porters are another popular tipple. Again, there are some great ones about. The Old Moor Porter from Barnsley brewer Acorn is a favourite. Full bodied, with liquorice flavours. Two more to savour are Bank Top's Port O'Call, a roasted barley flavoured porter. And Thwaites Tavern Porter, quite superb, with its roasty character and smoke and liquorice flavours.
Finally, we must have a real cider on the bar. Dove Syke, the cider maker from the Ribble Valley, have two tasty still ciders. The Ribble Valley Gold is pure and refreshing at 6.2%.However, their Gold Cider with ginger is a pure delight. Cider with ginger are a perfect marriage in my opinion.
So there you have it. My idea of beer heaven, so to speak! I am sure you all have yours too.