In praise of….. the light and bitter

OK, so I’m stealing a format from the Guardian, but hardly anything in this world is original anyway.

This includes the new trend for hoppy, refreshing pale ales served cold. Now I happen to love a lot of these, and regularly drink British versions of the American style, such as Kernel, Thornbridge and Brewdog.


Just saw a tweet from the boozer where I learned how to drink, the Dukes Head in Wallington, Sth London / Surrey – @dukesheadhotel. They suggested drinking pints of Bombadier in the sunshine; something that is particularly doable there as they are adjacent to a big village green. I’ve spent many a day / evening there and I’m sure I’ll continue to, although I’ve never been a fan of Bombadier.

I would however suggest anyone that likes pale ales, but thinks they can be a little strong for session drinking (anyone that cares about their liver, or has to get home fairly sober) might consider an old-fashioned alternative. My dad and his mates have drunk “light and bitter” most of their lives, and it’s very much a drink of the baby boomer generation, as opposed to those of a younger vintage.

I have to commend this slightly arcane, and also quite hard to get combination. It’s probably pretty much confined to Young’s pubs, and is best with their “Ordinary” Bitter topped up with a bottle of cold light ale. It’s cold, refreshing  hoppy and quite low in alcohol – probably about 3.5%., which means it’s an ideal session drink, especially in warmer weather.

It’s also been known as the “greedy man’s drink”. If it’s poured properly, you’re meant to get more than half a pint of bitter before the light ale goes in – eg you get more than a pint. This convention is being rapidly cut back, to the point where in some places very close to my heart in Borough, you have to make a point of getting an extra squeeze just to make sure you end up with a proper pint – let alone a greedy one.

Anyway, for anyone reading this, I can heartily recommend a light a bitter if it’s warm and you’re looking for a thirst quenching pint or two after a hard day at work, but you need to stay sober(ish).




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