Greene King IPA, Greene King Indian Pale Ale

Greene King IPA: Just beer

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I know they call it IPA for some reason, but Greene King IPA is just a bitter, plain and simple. This is my everyday beer when I’m in England. It’s cheap...there. It’s not fancy or complicated. It’s not overpowered with alcohol. It’s just a good, solid, cask-conditioned ale that tastes exactly the way a run-of-the mill beer is supposed to taste. Like beer.

As always, something is going to be missing if you don’t get the full, pump-pulled experience of the true cellar cooled ale in a brimming pint glass. On this side of the pond we have to make-do with the nitro-cans. With this particular ale, it doesn’t matter quite as much. The thing that does matter here is the price. Brits would be amused knowing we’re forced to plunk down so much change for this beer that they consider just a cheap bitter.

So, why should we?

That cheap bitter we have to overpay for is still worlds better than the usual line of domestics here. It also goes for about the same amount as most of the other imports. Those imports all have their place, with all the myriad flavors and styles and strengths. This is the import that is as ’beer’ as beer gets.

It’s not going to grow hair on your chest. It only clocks in at 3.6% alcohol. The almost orange brew with a soapy head that disappears well before the last swi, is for those who like the taste of beer more than they like getting drunk. Even that taste is mild and soft. The low level of carbonation lends it a creamy sense, but even that’s subdued. There are no plums or apricots to look for in the aroma or flavor. It’s dry and hoppy and always leaves you ready for another one.

Since this bitter isn’t heavy and is a sort that tends to be drank for lengths at a time, at some point thoughts of eating generally come around during a session. I tend to treat this beer just as I would a glass of water, or maybe iced tea. It’s perfectly fine and unobtrusive with any food, but it’s never going to add much to the meal. This isn’t one of those beverages that is going to enhance anything you might want to eat. It’ll just help you get it all washed down and ready for the real business at hand.

So, Greene King IPA isn’t the most flavorful or interesting beer. It doesn’t pair up with any food particularly well. It’s a bit light, almost watery, and even your skinniest girlfriend would need to have several to start feeling the effects. On top of it all, we have to pay much more than the beer is worth over here.

I still think it’s worth drinking.

In fact, that used to be its slogan: ’made for drinking.’ I start to think too many beers forget that idea. They have subtle flavors and interesting this and that’s. Or there is no attention at all paid to the flavor and they come out as nothing more than cheap, inebriating barley water. Greene King IPA is meant to be enjoyably drank. That’s all -- no bells and whistles. A beer that tastes like beer, looks like beer, and drinks like beer. Real beer. What a novel concept.

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