Classic Bass Ale
Usually when I first walk into an unfamiliar bar, the second thing I look at are the tap handles. Yes, the second; suffice it to say there is more to life than the beer. Even for me. A quick scan, which is sometimes difficult at the boozers that take it as a matter of pride to have hundreds lined up, is all that’s necessary. While I’m on the subject, I’m all about variety in general, but those places that have all those draft beers.... You just know that when you opt for one of the obscure ones, it’s going to be stale as piss. Why do they even bother? Keep a dozen or so fresh ones and rotate a few more in and out. There’s no need to have seventy beers tapped that sit for months and are going to taste like vinegar whenever someone does try to be adventurous. It only guarantees they won’t do it again.
Sorry, I digress.
Anyway, if that quick scan of the taps reveals a red diamond somewhere in the mix, I know everything’s going to be alright. That red diamond happened to be Britain’s first trademark, and signals that the always reliable Bass Ale is served there.
Bass is pure beer to me. Everyone has heard of it; most have had it; just about every place has it; and you can always count on it being fresh. England’s largest brewer has been making it at Burton-on-Trent since 1777, and there’s no reason to change a thing. Yes, it is different in England. It comes out of casks and is poured by gravity taps there. You would barely recognize it. But it’s good here.
It pours a clear reddish amber with a decent tan head that dissipates quickly. You want your imperial pint glass filled to the brim with nothing but the good stuff, and that’s how this beer is designed. The aroma is mostly the sweet malt.
It’s a balanced beer, though. Plenty of flavor, but nothing dramatically interesting. Those sweet caramel malts register first, then the hops give it just a touch of a bitter ending, barely worth mentioning. The flavor coats your mouth for awhile. You don’t forget what you’ve drank after the swallow. It’s light or barely medium bodied, but the taste sticks around.
In my dart playing days, this was my beer of choice. A dart match requires several rounds, and this beer is perfect for a session. The 5% alcohol happened to match my game perfectly. Just about when I started feeling the effects too much, the match was ending anyway. At least that’s what they always told me.... I consider it a great bar food beer, mainly because that may be the only thing I’ve ever had with it. Anything good and meaty would be fine, though.
Just a good beer’s beer. There are more interesting things, if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s complex enough. It makes a great black and tan, though a good Irishman won’t touch it -- they have the Harp for their half-and-halfs. The flavor isn’t overpowering so it accepts the extra maltiness from the stout nicely. Bass is the standard British ale all the others are measured by. You can find some better ones, but you can do plenty worse. If you see that red triangle, rest assured. The place has at least one decent beer.