26 January 2008

...a place to sit and soak in sanit'ry conditions

The village inn, the dear old inn,
So ancient, clean and free from sin

wrote Betjeman in his pre-CAMRA rant about the loss of England's pub heritage. Well, my local village inn, Brady's in Terenure village, is usually pretty clean, but I doubt if it's ancient, and this post largely concerns one of its sins in particular. I'm in there every few weeks for the carvery lunch. From the macrobrews on offer I'd generally have a Guinness. Mrs Beer Nut, a lager drinker by default since she doesn't like stout, kegged ale or Erdinger, has been pitching around for a new regular and decided to give the Beck's Vier a go. Strange sort of beer this one: it appeared in the market a couple of years ago and is made by InBev in Germany exclusively for the British and Irish draught market. Presumably because of the varient "normal" beer strengths in both countries, it's an even 4% ABV in the UK, 4.3% over here. Concentration brewing is great, isn't it? Just add water...

Long story short, Beck's Vier is extremely dull. Yes, you can detect a hint of that maltiness which is the Beck's hallmark and which, I have to say, I quite like. But there's really nothing else going on: they've taken away the flavour and replaced it with water and gas. There's no doubt that Ireland's bars are oversupplied with lager taps. However, following events during the week, our Big Three brewers are now a Huge Two, and when the merger goes through Heineken in Cork will be paying people to make and market Heineken, Amstel, Coors Light, Miller, Foster's and Kronenbourg 1664. Something must give, but I'd say InBev Ireland, and Beck's Vier, will weather the storm.

To the other end of the pub spectrum, then, and the Bull & Castle. A shipment of Maredsous 10 arrived recently. Last year I complained about the tastelessness of Number 6 (be seeing you). Its big brother still lacks the bold flavours I'd expect from a tripel. However, it's smooth, honey-like and very very easy to drink so I think I can just about forgive it. It doesn't have the character of stablemate good old Duvel, however.

And that's me done with pubs for a while. Back to proper beer...

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