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I was looking forward to a beer or two on Friday. It had been a pain of a week for one reason, and for another, the previous Friday I was driving and couldn't have a drink. With this in mind, I was ready to chuck copious amounts of frothy brew down the old esophagus...purely, I hasten to add, in a mature and responsible manner.
So the beer of choice would really have to be one not too high in alcohol. A nice session ale. One like Marstons Pedigree Bitter which, fortuitously enough, the pub had so much of, they were selling it to anyone who could come up with the necessary £1-whatever (under 2 quid).
The Marston brewery is located in what most would consider to be the Mecca of English brewing, Burton-0n-Trent, but these days Marstons is part of the Wolverhampton and Dudley Brewery chain. The brewery is still firmly anchored in Burton of course, where the hard, calcium sulphate water ensures the particular quality of ales from that part of the world. Pedigree is the flagship brand of WDB, and they sell around 41 million pints of the stuff each year.
For more on the history of the brewery, and the many different ales they produce, go to: http://www.fullpint.co.uk
TRIVIA: The pub in question was a JD Wetherspoons. This chain has the custom of pinning newspapers on the wall of the Gents (maybe they do it in the Ladies as well, but I've never been invited in there so I can't comment). While paying a visit the other evening, I read the following while pis...um, passing the time... "In the South Pacific yesterday morning, a ship carrying red paint collided with a ship carrying blue paint. A spokesman said that both crews were marooned."
THEY SAY: "A Premium cask-conditioned beer brewed using a unique strain of yeast and the only beer brewed through the Burton Union Systems*. A fine combination of mineral enriched Burton Water, fruity Fuggles hops married with bitter and spicy Golding hops to deliver a distinctive yet beautifully balanced beer."
* This is fermentation method whereby the brew moves through a series of large, oak barrels which are linked in a 'union'. This is a Victorian system which all other brewers have long since abandoned.
PEDIGREE pours a tea-colour shade of copper which is topped by a reasonably long-lasting head of tan, creamy foam. Consequently, there is a fair amount of lace deposited on the glass.
The aroma has a noticeable caramel edge to it at first, before a hint of butterscotch makes a sneaky debut followed by some raisin-like fruitiness. There are definite woody tones, but not necessarily oak. Balancing this all out are some grassy hops, with just a kernel or two of nuttiness buried subtly in the background.
It's medium-bodied with a soft and smooth mouth feel. The taste is again of malt - light, sweet and ever-so-slightly nutty, although there is some dryness there too. There are some woody tones on the palate, but it's quite subtle and hardly worth logging the details. A hint of apples rounds off the flavour profile for this beer, which finishes fairly dry with no discernable aftertaste.
• The Verdict •
At 4.5% ABV, this is a decent, unpretentious session ale. It's maybe not a world-beater, but it's solid enough and slips down a treat. iI's fairly well-balanced - maybe a little malty for an English bitter, but essentially, it's a fine ale. As for food pairings, typical pub grub would be the order of the day - although what constitutes 'typical' pub grub these days is anyone's guess. All-in-all, although it's hardly outstanding, it's an above average, easy-drinking ale.
Would I drink it again? - I'd be a barking mad not to.