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Retro Beer Review: Boddington’s Pub Ale

Originally written and published in March of 1999, this review of Boddington’s Pub Ale is one of my favorites. I learned something about the English, Strangeways, and warm beer. Cheers!
- Greg

Boddington's Pub Ale

The English, I’m told, like their beer warm. Warm beer?( SEE THE UPDATE!)In the U.S.A. we have so many awful beers, that when we drink them warm, they really do taste like cow pee-pee. So, here anyway, it makes a lot of sense to drink beer cold.

I’ve always assumed that English beer must be better. It would have to be, right? How else could they drink it warm? My most recent beer review has taught me that the English must taste everything differently.

When I selected Boddingtons Pub Ale (in the same random fashion that I always choose these beers), I asked the local beer god if I should drink it warm. You must understand that the beer god has tried just about every beer available at the beer store, and then some that can’t even be bought there. I thought he’d have respect for the English tradition. Instead he answered, “Do you like you’re beer warm?” The mark of a true sage. He answered my question with a question.

On my way home I pondered the question carefully. I decided that I would try the beer both at room temperature, and chilled. This meant that I could have a beer immediately upon returning to my domain.

As soon as I walked into my kitchen, I pulled down my favorite 23 ounce beer glass and poured. The pint size can filled the glass and the head rose all the way to the top. While I waited for the head to go down, I read the can.

According to the label, the creamy head on the beer was caused by the DRAUGHTFLOW® SYSYTEM. A small device releases millions of tiny bubbles into the beer giving it a more authentic taste. This is done to replace the “hand pull” method of serving draught beer.

Because the oldest brewing traditions are still used, the beer is naturally carbonated only with yeast. In the States when beer is pasteurized it loses its carbonation, and CO2 is pumped into it to make it bubbly (even if it’s not pasteurized like Coors). This is why Budweiser tastes like carbonated water with a twist of dead grass. Anyhoo, when the beer is served, air is mixed through the tap aiding the yeast, giving lift to the weak carbonation, and creating a creamy head.
The head was creamy, indeed. The beer was golden, and went down smooth. It was awful at room temperature,however. It took me 30 minutes to drink a pint, which was plenty of time for another pint to chill.

The chilled beer was much better. Quite delicious in fact. I really enjoyed it. It was smooth, a little lighter than I expected, but a very good beer.

If I were to rate this beer on my impressions of it warm, I would be doing it and you a disservice. Warm, it is no better than Budweiser. That makes sense because it is a “pub ale,” which to me means a house beer. That’s all Bud is. Chilled, this beer is very good. Boddingtons Pub Ale gets 4 BB & B’s.

Boddingtons is brewed by Strangeways Brewery in Manchester England*. Manchester is the home of many great bands like The Smiths, Stone Roses, and New Order, to name a few. The Smiths had an album named Strangeways Here We Come. I always thought the title had to do with the behavior of lead singer Morrissey, and I had no clue Strangeways was a district in Manchester. Anyway, crank up “The Boy With a Thorn in His Side,” and have a pint of Boddingtons Pub Ale — chilled.

* Sometime between now and the original publication date, Boddington’s was purchased by In-Bev.

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