At approximately 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 2, 2018 the first keg to be emptied at Pints&union was Fuller’s London Pride, with Guinness queuing close behind it.
This pleases me for a number of reasons.
From the start, we’ve been inspired by the classic British pub experience, while not going quite so far as to imitate it in the fashion of a puerile Disney facsimile. The fact that customers are drawn to Fuller’s bears the stamp of vindication.
I’ve been to London and always enjoyed pints of Fuller’s at the company’s tied houses. In Louisville, the Irish Rover has had Fuller’s ESB on tap for many years, and it’s my go-to with fish and chips (oddly, the ESB is unavailable in Indiana).
In the following article, Alworth is wonderfully spot on. If you’ve been to the UK and found yourself absorbed in classic pub culture, enjoying cask-conditioned “real” ale and the occasional nibble, it sticks with you forever. At the same time, it’s far easier to stock a reasonably authentic Belgian beer cafe or Bavarian biergarten in America than a British-style pub.
There’ll be many kegs to come, but I’ll always remember the first. Thank you very much.
FULLER’S LONDON PRIDE: A HARMONY IN FIVE PARTS, by Jeff Alworth (All About Beer Magazine)
Good luck finding a proper English bitter in the United States. You can more easily locate gose—an obscure, recently extinct beer made in only a couple of breweries in its native Germany—than the national ale of Britain. The same Britain, to underscore this irony, that served as the model for American microbreweries 40 years ago. Yanks still make pale ales by the legion, and our IPAs were at least inspired by the English predecessor. But a 3.8% bitter, with native yeast esters, local hops and bready malts blossoming under the effect of cask conditioning? You have to go to the source.
For reasons no one can untangle, Americans never took to cask ale. Maybe it’s because too few of us have managed to visit Britain, found ourselves in a cozy, wood-paneled pub, with hands encircling a third pint. Because for those of us who have, the experience has lingered and developed a patina in our memories. My first such experience is still the most indelible: the Jack Horner, in Bloomsbury, London, after a long flight from the West Coast. A Fuller’s pub, with meat pies and tall glasses of London Pride. If your dalliances happened with Timothy Taylor Landlord or Harveys Sussex Best or Adnams Southwold, I’m not going to argue. There are quite a number of excellent bitters in England—and even more lovely pubs in which to fall in love with them.
But even stripped of the nostalgia, my vote goes to Pride. It has that lovely woody color that confuses Americans and a palate that, to IPA drinkers, is anything but “bitter.” “Balance” would be a more apt name. In London Pride’s case, all the hallmarks of English brewing are in attendance: an orangy, marmalade nose of fruity ale esters, a touch of the toffee malts and a hint of delicately floral hops. Your attention can be drawn to any of them, or you can take in the way they form such a beautiful chorus. Also: the soft mouthfeel that can only come from the lower levels of natural carbonation, contrasted by the water’s minerality and stiffness. Yeast, malt, hop, water and cask-conditioning—a harmony in five parts …