Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Newcastle Brown Ale on Tap?

First of all apologies for not posting here in a while. I wanted to write a great big post about my exploits in Chicago covering all of the bars I took photos of, but never got round to it. They will appear here over the next couple of weeks.

Now to this article...

Although this blog is primarily about pubs, I have started taking more notice of what beers are on tap in the pubs I visit. This is primarily due to The Beer Nut whose blog I read regularly and enjoy his analysis of the beers he drinks. The man has the most adventurous palate of anyone I know.
So, while I was in Chicago I went to a bar called English Chicago. I unfortunately didn't get a photo of the place, but did get a photo of the beers they had on tap. 

The reason for this is that I was completely taken aback at seeing Newcastle Brown Ale on tap, something I have never seen before. I must admit, I have never tried the drink before, but I have seen what drinking lots of it does to people, and that is not pretty. I appreciate that in the UK the bottles that Newcastle Brown is sold in is 550ml (about a pint), but to see it available on tap is quite surprising. Personally, I  have always found it easier to keep track of my drinks when drinking bottles compared with drinking pints. 

I am also quite glad I took the photo of the taps in the pub because it is a fine example of the oversized tap handles that seem to be the norm in American bars. I guess that in the UK the tap surround does the advertising of the beer, whereas in the US the brass T coming out of the bar top is standard, so the tap handle does the advertising of the beer.  I must admit, I have no real preference, but the American taps all seem to be leaning at various angles, looking like they are all trying to see around each other to grab your attention; think people standing in a queue waiting for a bus. In the photo above, it looks like the Guinness looks you in the eye, but the rest of the beer taps are only interested in the people coming in the door. :-)

The bar itself was quite nice. It has an English pseudo theme to it. By pseudo theme I mean that it is not trying to be a "Ye Olde Englishe Pubbe" type venue. Instead, their food and drink menus have an English theme to them.  One of the beers they have which I didn't try is Duchy English Ale. It's the ale sold under the Duchy Originals brand, the Prince of Wales's own brand. While I was there, I thought, "if the beer is anything like the biscuits, it will be a fine brew." I have since read The Beer Nut's thoughts and am not sure I care for it much (maybe I can convince him to do a re-test).  On a side note, the ale is brewed by the Wychwood Brewery, which is certainly one of the more interesting independent breweries in England. It was also known for it's chain of Hobgoblinns pubs which I always enjoyed drinking in.

Finally, for this rather long entry, I was going to give an honourable mention must go to the first and only Dutch vodka I have encountered, Effen Vodka. I know the Dutch are big on their Jenever, so you would think they might branch into vodka as another strong spirit.
I was actually quite excited when I saw it being sold, being the first place I have seen it.  However, as I looked around the internet for information about Effen and it's origins, all I could find is that it is "made from premium wheat from Northern Holland" by "modifying a century-old Dutch recipe" as opposed to made in the small town of XYZ in Northern Holland. Rather, I  suspect it is distilled somewhere in Chicago since the company that owns the website, and just about every other hit I got from Google had something to do with Chicago (including the launch party). So, instead of adding my photo of the Effen bottle and linking to their website, I am not. I feel that the company behind Effen is stretching the 'imported' label a bit too far, especially in America. They aren't breaking the law, but I dislike this kind of marketing, and so will refrain from linking to any sites to do with Effen.
Besides, if you want a decent vodka, give Finlandia a go.

1 comment:

Steve Hayes said...

I studied in England in the mid-1960s and soon developed a taste for Newcastle Brown, which I regard as the best beer in the world. In 7 October 1966 I found it on tap in the Market Tavern in Durham, and when I told my fellow students about it none of them believed me. They had only ever seen it in bottles. A couple of them came to see the wonder for themselves, and dismissed it as "keg" -- bottled beer in barrels.