Greene King: Insurgency Over The Front Line?

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about my local pub, complaining about its beer and talking about my general malaise brought on by all things Greene King.
Shortly afterwards I was approached by the brewery.
They wanted to talk to me about what beer means to them, and so they invited me to Bury St. Edmunds to address some of my issues and to generally get to know what I and CAMRGB feel about Greene King beer.
In the days leading up to my visit there were plenty of jokes, from me included.
Was this some plot to do away with me, and should I take air support or ground troops.
That kind of thing.
Having spent some time with Greene King I have to honestly say many of my questions have been answered and I think of the brewery in a completely different way in many respects.
I tasted their beer in a whole new light, but I still think their IPA is a terrible drink.
Here’s how the visit went.

I had a long train journey over to Bury St. Edmunds, just short of four hours.
I primed myself with a bottle of Punk IPA and a Victory Hop Devil and arrived at Bury station tired but happy and more than a little bit excited, and found a taxi waiting to take me to my hotel.
The Fox is situated in the heart of the town, next to the Abbey Gardens and is one of the oldest pubs in Bury St. Edmunds.
I checked in, dropped my bags in my room and went to the bar.
A hot meal was waiting for me, made with local produce and tasting lovely after my journey.
I ordered a pint of Greene King IPA, took a mouthful and tasted, well, nothing really.
The faintest glimmer of hops maybe? A teeny touch of malt?

On Thursday morning after a smashing breakfast of Eggs Benedict with Suffolk black bacon I was met by Jo and Jonny from Greene King.
Over a cup of tea we got to know each other and I told them in no uncertain terms that I had questions for them that they might not like, or might feel uncomfortable about answering.
To their credit they took everything I said on the chin and I warmed to them very quickly.
These weren’t the faceless, white-coated, evil, corporate villains that part of me had expected them to be.
These were two young and enthusiastic professionals who enjoyed a chat and were very open to discussing what could potentially have been very uncomfortable topics for them.
My opening salvo was along the lines of, “Why doesn’t Greene King IPA taste of anything?”
There was a sharp intake of breath around the table and we moved on (but fear not, this is a subject that we kept returning to).
My next question was about putting their seasonal beers on the bar as “guests” and how misleading I thought this to be.
Initially the response was that it was to differentiate from their core range, but when I told them that I found that argument unconvincing Jonny looked me in the eye and told me he understood my concerns and that they would be looking into addressing that by making sure their seasonals were branded more openly with the Greene King name.

Tea finished we walked across town, through the beautiful Abbey Gardens and past the cathedral to the brewery where we were met by the avuncular John Bexon, Head Brewer.
I’d wanted their Brewer to be a moustachioed villain in a cape and top hat, but John is just an ordinary bloke who’s been making beer for a very long time (he was with several breweries before coming to Greene King). He’s open and friendly and very funny and I liked him immediately.
We began the tour by climbing a lot of stairs up and out onto the roof of the brewery.
From five floors up the view of Bury St. Edmunds is lovely and as John explained some of the history of Greene King I was able to get a real sense of the brewery’s place in the community.
And that place is integral to the community – stuck right in the middle of the town, its footprint is about 44 acres.
The workforce live close by, the brewery oversees a country park, and houses nestle right up against the brewery walls.

John explained to me how they use their water.
Pumped up from a borehole the water is taken up on to the roof and then gravity fed down through the brewery.
Greene King brew beer under several different names, Abbot Ale, Morland and Ridley’s being just three.
They go to great lengths to try and make the beer taste as it would when originally brewed and this includes “engineering” the water to match that which was used in Derbyshire or Yorkshire or wherever the beers initially came from.
I found it very interesting but I was a little unconvinced that creating water is a good thing.
Is the water of an area simply made up from percentages of this and that mineral?
Can one effectively create Buxton water (for example) by stripping local water of everything and then re-inserting the Buxton recipe?
With this I asked what it was that made all Greene King beers taste so similar.
It wasn’t an easy question to answer and I’m not sure I was given a convincing reply.
Maybe it’s just that regardless of what is done to the water it maintains some characteristics of Bury St. Edmunds and that’s that thing that you get when you drink any of the Greene King range.

We worked our way down the building, tasting malted barley (delicious) and burying our noses in hops (divine) and then left the “tourist” trail as I was taken underground through a series of low ceilinged corridors, under the road, and into the tortue chamber.
No, not really.
We walked by Yorkshire squares full of beer, nowadays covered to meet with food hygiene standards and John opened the door on one and asked me to put my head inside.
As soon as my nose crossed the threshold the carbon dioxide pulled every last gasp of oxygen out of my body and sent me reeling backwards.
Like a huge dose of smelling salts, it certainly cleared my head.
It was his little joke, but it was also a quite astonishing experience.
I was taken into the brewery’s quality control and testing area where I was asked to take part in that day’s quality assurance tests.
Sat in a booth, I was presented with five black containers of beer and asked to do a number of taste tests with them and record my findings.
I found this rather exciting and enjoyed it immensely.
After this I was invited to sit around a table.
There were ten of us with three glasses of beer each and some grading sheets.
The people around the table with me came from the secretarial, marketing, brewing and warehousing parts of the business and it transpires that the staff take turns in helping with the testing.

Following this we moved into the sample room where kegs of beer lined the walls and I was given a quick lesson in the constituent parts of beer before being told that there was something they wanted me to taste.
Something not many people get to try.
Earlier on we had passed two enormous and rather beautiful wooden vats.
These are used to mature Greene King’s 5X.
Now, 5X isn’t on public sale.
It’s used in blending some of the stronger beers in the range, but the brewery simply can’t make enough to make it a viable product.
I was poured a glass.
5X is around 12.5%, pours thick and rich and red and is full of raisins soaked in rum, apple skins, rich fruit cake and biscuity malts. It has that big bold flavour of a good barley wine and is, in a word, delicious.
It was at that moment that my brain did a hyper speed retake of everything I’d so far learned.
Greene King aren’t supposed to be making this.
Their brewer isn’t supposed to be standing with me, slugging a twelve percent beer and grinning.

Before leaving the brewery and finding some lunch I was guided further into the belly of the building.
It was explained that on emptying some of the deepest darkest basement rooms a false wall was found and behind it they found beer.
Lots of beer.
Unlabelled and in beautiful old bottles stopped with corks, some research found that this was “Coronation” beer.
Brewed in 1936 for Edward VIII’s coronation, the beer never went on sale because, as we all know, Edward abdicated.
It was a quite humbling experience to be standing in this old dank storeroom surrounded by hundreds of crated beers made over seventy years ago and to be one of very few people to get to see this.
And then they handed me two bottles.
One to drink and one to keep.
I was blown away.
I’m looking at them on my kitchen table now as I type and I can’t wait to open one and see what it’s like.

Over lunch back in The Fox we talked about CAMRGB and Greene King and exchanged a few beer related stories and just got to know each other a little.
I drank a Speckled Hen and enjoyed it and at that moment I realised something fundamental about the way I drink beer.
There are still Greene King beers that I don’t like.
I still believe their IPA is terrible and tasteless and I told them so again and to their credit Jo, Jonny and John conceded that it is brewed for market share.
It’s a beer brewed for people to drink without thinking about it.
A beer so accessible that it has quickly become a rod with which people like myself can beat Greene King.
But I did realise something fundamentally important to the way I drink and enjoy beer.
A few years ago I would have drunk a Speckled Hen (for example) and enjoyed it, but I’ve been learning about beer and I’ve been getting to know BIG flavours, enormous hops, brain crushing malts, and as a result the way I taste beers like those made by Greene King has changed.
Many of them seem to lack flavour but I think that’s as much to do with me as them.
The Speckled Hen I had with lunch I really enjoyed.
I’d not had any of my usual drinks before hand.
There was no Punk IPA clouding my palate, and as a result I found a subtle toffee malt pricked with peppery hops that went brilliantly with the sausage and mash I was having for lunch.

I left Bury St. Edmunds thinking about the way I think about beer.
Some of the questions I had for Greene King went unanswered, but there’ll be another time for those.
What I decided was that I wouldn’t immediately dismiss any of the beer made by the UK’s “big” brewers anymore.
Instead I’ll be a little more careful about how I match the beer I drink.
I won’t stick something like a Magic Rock Cannonball at the front of my evening if the next bottle in the fridge is going to be a Greene King or a Marston’s or…you get my drift.
Last night I started with an Elgood’s beer.
A brewery that I have enjoyed in the past but have always thought made safe, subtle, quiet little beers, but this one tasted amazing.
And it tasted amazing because it didn’t have to fight against the big bullies that are usually waiting on my tongue to beat down these softer drinks.

Many of you might think I’m wrong, many of you may not agree with anything I’ve said.
Greene King make some beers I don’t like at all (Abbot’s Reserve has a bad alcohol burn no matter how you look at it), but they also actually make some very good beers too – St. Edmunds is a really nice, soft beer with American hops that gives a pleasing and playful grapefruit and citrus tang.
But Greene King isn’t a faceless corporate brewer, they’re just a brewery who happen to be enormous and that maybe haven’t kept up with the changes that beer has been going through over the last few years.
From the conversations that I had with them I think we might be about to see some changes in the not too distant future.

I’d like to thank everyone at The Fox, Bury St. Edmunds for their hospitality and Jo, Jonny and John for being so open to my questioning.

About Simon Williams

Founder of CAMRGB. Member of The British Guild Of Beer Writers. Leftist bigmouth. Old and grumpy.
This entry was posted in Beer Review, Brewery, CAMRGB, Interview and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

63 Responses to Greene King: Insurgency Over The Front Line?

  1. Steve says:

    That was a great write-up and good on them for inviting you along to show you around. Palate fatigue is something we all have to watch out for if being critical about beers, not just from stronger/hoppier beers but also strongly flavoured foods.
    I’m not keen on a lot of Greene King beers and I’d love to see some real guests in their pubs but they have some great ones in their portfolio and have a good pub estate that lessees seem to be happy in. Without Greene King holding its corner in the south the big PubCos would own even more.

  2. Very objective, old boy. You’re right about how you drink beer. I was always told to build up to the big and bold beers – climbing the stairs :). I think a lot of beers of this type are the ones we encounter at the start of our beer journey, when we are young and just want alcohol and we are not so bothered about taste. May be that’s their role for many of us beer drinking pro’s.

    I am hugely jealous of the beer you took away. Enjoy it.

    Andy

  3. Des de Moor says:

    Fascinating writeup, Simon, and glad it made you thoughtful. Actually nobody I’ve met in the industry at the front end of brewing is a moustache twirling villain or a cynical corporate reptile — most are dedicated to the products they make even if the results are bland and uninspiring. And there’s a place for easy going beers, though I absolutely agree with you that IPA is utterly characterless, and that all the brands from breweries they’ve taken over still taste like GK beers. Perhaps they put some effort into the water chemistry but I suspect they use the same yeast for pretty much everything, which accounts for the character.

    Yes, St Edmund is quite decent, the XX Mild if you can find it is something of a heritage treasure and Suffolk Strong is excellent. I think they’re out of touch in not releasing unblended Old 5X as a bottle conditioned special — they still seem to believe no-one will drink it because of its sourness.

    I visited GK about 18 months ago not as a preplanned press visit but because I was in Bury anyway and got myself onto a brewery tour, so I didn’t get the access you did. There’s a writeup of my own “and yet…” moments at http://desdemoor.co.uk/greene-king-the-joy-of-5x/.

  4. Gareth says:

    Good stuff, look forward to hearing about the ‘Coronation’ beer. It will be interesting to see if we do see some changes in approach, I’m not really convinced as to why they would. They seem successful enough and a bit of a bashing from bloggers – a tiny, if rather vocal, section of the market – is unlikely to encourage a large change (and I’m not sure it should).

    Still, can’t fault them for a willingness to listen, and from what you’ve written it certainly sounds like it was more than just a token gesture. Let’s wait and see!

  5. Sid Boggle says:

    Did you ever drink Speckled Hen when it was actually a Morland beer, and not a ‘badge’ brewed at Bury St Edmunds? It isn’t the same beer.

    Sounds like your day out gave you some food for thought, though, which is a good thing.

  6. Finlay says:

    I find it hilarious that you’ve spent months haranguing people who have a wealth of experience in the beer world, and it took a trip to Greene King (of all places) to teach you about mineral treatment of water and palette fatigue.

    I’m glad you’re finally learning something about beer.

    • It’s a steep learning curve and I’m learning quickly and I have never denied I’m a learner.
      Not sure when i’ve actually harangued anyone, but I do stand by my beliefs about all this.
      Maybe I needed to visit a large brewer instead of the smaller ones I usually drop in on.
      That said, there’s a lot that GK could learn from the smaller breweries and from my discussions yesterday I think they’re realising that too.
      So things could get interesting.
      Cheers!

    • And by the way, opening a comment with, “I find it hilarious…” is quitean aggressive thing, no?
      You mentioned courtesy in a previous post….
      If I’m so objectionable or laughable why bother continuing to read?
      Who’s doing the haranguing?
      Thanks.

      • Finlay says:

        Aggressive? Not intended to be, just true.

        You’re a walking embodiment of the Dunning-Krueger effect, telling everyone that you know what good beer is when it’s evident that you barely know the first thing about it.

        I don’t mean to put you off, it would be silly to be elitist and exclusive — beer is for everyone. It’s hard to be welcoming when newcomers blaze in telling the people who actually know their stuff (@Tandleman, @MilitaryCoo, others) that they don’t know anything and that you know best.

        Seriously, it’s /astounding/ that you had never heard of burtonisation, and even more astounding that you think water has some magical properties that can’t be reproduced in a lab.

        • I’ve never told @tandleman that he doesn’t know anything.
          In fact I’ve often told him how highly I regard his views.
          I just don’t agree with them all.
          And I certainly don’t think water has “magical” qualities.
          That’s not what I was getting at at all. I was making a point that ingredients aren’t always the sum of their chemical parts.
          Which they’re not – it is often how they are used in conjunction with all the other ingredients.
          As for not knowing the first thing about it, I’ve never once said I’m an expert.
          In fact I have always said that I am purely a beer fan.
          I still firmly believe that it is not important to know all the technicalities of making something to make it good.
          To go back to a very old post of mine – One doesn’t have to understand exactly how a piece of music is made in order to have an opinion about it.
          Same with beer my friend.
          Same with anything.

          • Finlay says:

            You sound like that guy from the Apprentice who made himself famous by lauding his own ignorance.

            There is no mysterious process that somehow makes H20 with 150mg/l CaCO3 from source X different from H2O with 150mg/l CaCO3 from source Y.

            The idea that knowing less is somehow better or even “as good” as knowing more is an understandable position for someone who clearly falls into the former category, but it’s somewhat silly. I suggest you look up “Dunning-Krueger” as mentioned in my previous post.

        • I’ve never watched The Apprentice.
          You seem overly eager to start some kind of argument and to prove that you know more than me.
          I’m sure you do know more than me.
          That’s why I’m learning.
          And I’m not saying knowing less is better.
          If you find this blog and this website so badly written and uninformed then I suggest two options:
          1. I’d be very happy for you to contribute – I could do with some more people writing.
          2. Just don’t read it and save yourself the annoyance.
          :)

          • Pastey says:

            I’ve met some of the experts in the beer, brewing and bar trades over the years. I’ve sat, got drunk, discussed and argued with them. Not two of them agree on what makes a “good beer”

            Everyone is constantly learning, if not we’d all still be stuck drinking Watneys Red Barrel, and not some of the excellent offerings from the multitude of breweries this country and others have to offer. If you stop learning about beer, you should stop drinking it. Because you’re no longer going to find anything that surprises or pleases you.

            It doesn’t matter the style or the strength of the beer, what makes it a good one is the pleasure it gives you when you drink it.

            As for the differences in water, yes it does make a difference. Even Burtonisation which tried to provide a level playing field in with the base ingredient didn’t manage it simply because any chemical process will affect that which its been applied to. It’s very unlikely you’ll get a pure process, and as the main ingredient in beer, water plays a rather large part.

            Cheers!

          • Steve says:

            @Finlay

            I’m not entirely sure there isn’t a minimal affect from water. When brewing liquors are replicated it is usually only the major constituents which are replicated, rather than some trace elements. These trace elements *could* have an affect on the final beer but in all likelihood won’t. The accuracy of water replication will vary with analysis

        • Tim says:

          Personally I don’t want CAMRGB to be about brewing, I want it to be about beer (homebrewer here). Brewing is a part of that but I don’t want to be part of an organisation which requires a person to have a degree level understanding in Zymology to have an oppinion on a beer.

          I’d guestimate that 95% of Punk IPA (or any other nice craft beer) drinkers do not even know what zymology is, and couldn’t care less.

    • Gareth says:

      One thing I generally enjoy about reading beer blog posts is that the comments section isn’t full of Trolls, unlike most newspaper websites. Does this sort of comment mean you’ve achieved a level of notoriety Simon, or do you think it’s just a one-off piece of green-eyed abuse?

  7. Tony Leonard says:

    Finally, after 11 years, got our first local guest ale at the Eagle, Brighton (Greene King -tied pub). Price we pay for a firkin of Dark Star Hophead through Greene King: £112.20. Price we pay at the Snowdrop (a freehouse) directly from Dark Star: £56.87.

  8. Good post Simon. I think Greene King did a good thing in inviting you down and it seems that both parties went away with food for thought. Where next?

  9. I can only imagine what that 1936 beer tastes like…I take it there’ll be an upcoming post about it?

  10. Finlay, *I don’t mean to put you off, it would be silly to be elitist and exclusive*? What are you doing then?

    If we want to learn about beer what do you suggest we do?

    • Finlay says:

      Try learning about it before deciding that others with more experience are wrong.

      Can you honestly say you think it makes sense to launch a “campaign”, bang a drum, and decry the opinions of vastly more experienced people without knowing the basics of the subject?

      I applaud the passion, but the cock-sure attitude is awful.

      • Thing is, the campaign very quickly got lots of people on board who know better than me and are happy to share their knowledge and expertise.
        I think that’s a fine state of affairs.
        A campaign isn’t just one person.
        It’s a group of people.
        And on the whole, I think the group of people we have gathered are really rather nice and are interested in similar beery things.
        You should join.
        Instead of coming on here and moaning about everything, share your expertise with us.

  11. Dave Prosser says:

    Thank you for a reasoned and thoughtful piece. Whilst it is very easy to bash Greene King (and other large breweries) for their lack of taste in their ‘core’ beers, my main problem is that their market share is too big and limiting choice.

    If we take JD Wetherspoon as an example, selling Ruddles and Abbot’s at ridiculous prices because they’ve secured a massive discount to supply the whole chain. Whilst there is always a choice of more local breweries, they mostly go untasted by the majority who vote with their wallet, and not with their palette.

    There’s no real way around this, and the consumer is somewhat to blame. Why spend £1.59 (heaven’s above!) on a guest ale, when £1.29 will get you a pint. It would be interesting to see the impact if all of Wetherspoon’s ale was evenly priced.

  12. Luke Daniels says:

    You did allow Greene King to bribe you with the 1936 beer. I admit that I would have had difficulty refusing such a gift, but this piece lacks a certain amount of integrity because you accepted the gift, I’m afraid. Anyhow, I’m not trying to start a fight, or get into an argument. Well done for an interesting insight into the mind of a very large British brewery. Propaganda tells us that the enemy are seven foot tall and eat babies, but aware people know that this isn’t true.

    • Yes, you are absolutely right.
      I accepted a gift that perhaps I shouldn’t have.
      However, when I drink it, if it’s terrible I shall say so.
      Does that help?
      ;)

      • Pastey says:

        I don’t think accepting the bottle was the wrong thing to do. The trip was an invite from Greene King to answer questions and show that they can actually brew beer.

        And it seems they pulled out all the stops. A nice hotel and good food help build up the ambience and set the tone of the whole experience, the same as any pub will do with a roaring fire in the winter or a well looked after beer garden in the summer, amongst other things. Where we drink beer adds greatly to the experience of it.

        So Greene King did what they can to prove they can brew beer, and from the sounds of it they proved that they can, with some reservations.

        But does this show that they’ve proved that their business isn’t working? If you’ve got the good brewery, the good beer and the good people, and yet what most people know of you is something that is a bland, unimaginative vessel for marketing and branding, then maybe you’re just showing that there is something wrong.

        Personally I don’t like Greene King. I grew up in that area of the country and have seen too many pubs forceably taken over by them, too many breweries bought up and closed, and too many beers I used to like turn into bland immitations of themselves. But I’ll always keep an open mind, and if they wish to invite me along to sample some of their proof they can brew, I won’t say no either.

  13. Adrian says:

    Of course, a cynic might suggest that invoking Dunning-Kruger is often a case of Dunning-Kruger in itself ;)

    Only kidding, but D-K is all about creating the illusion of expertise, and I don’t think Simon’s guilty of that. In all I’ve read here and on Twitter, he comes across as a normal, enthusiastic bloke, who wants to talk about beer.

    I enjoyed this post, as I’m in a similar position. I want to hate GK, as I disagree with so many of their aggressive business practices and find their beers bland and dull. But when I visited Bury I was quite touched by the homely community feel of the brewery (pity the town is so monocultural, beer-wise, though)

  14. chriso says:

    At least I now know to finally get a taste of that 5X that I’ve been wanting to try for years. Just write an article slagging them off and wait for the invite!

  15. Tom says:

    Nice article mate and fair play to them for inviting you along. It’s a shame you didn’t challenge them on their policy of aquiring and shutting down breweries destroying years of British Brewing heritage although I guess that’s capitalism for you.

    Glad you touched on their guest seasonals (badging their beers under the name Westgate Brewery too?) Totally agree with Pastey and the points he made which echoes mine when it comes to GK.

    On a side note I went to my first local CAMRA branch meeting where the secretary assures me that a pint of GK IPA in one of the pubs in town will blow me away. I will take up the challenge in the name of beer journalism one of these days!

  16. scissorkicks says:

    Couple of things :

    Punk IPA is canned at Thwaites, not brewed.

    Am I right in thinking that Craft and Cask are actually Greene King estate, albeit being operated in the manner of free houses?

  17. Tony Leonard says:

    I think this is an interesting article, and no I don’t think it is compromised by accepting gifts as as you have openly declared them. However, I do think those people criticising Greene King’s business strategy of making Greene King IPA so bland don’t really understand Greene King’s business. Greene King is NOT primarily a brewer that also owns a pub estate, it is first and foremost a pub company that owns a brewery. GK’s brewing interests make up only 15.9% of it’s turnover, the rest is from pubs. An equal proportion of business comes from it’s tenanted & leased estate, nearly 70% is from managed houses. It is the third biggest pubco in the country. Its managed houses are generally large, family orientated, price-sensitive, food-led units (Hungry Horse for example). In that context, brewing Britain’s blandest cask ale, which lends its brand to the GK operation as a whole, isn’t an aberration, its a very sensible business strategy. Of course John Bexon is a very good brewer and capable of brewing far better beers (as many have noted) but Greene King IPA is not mean’t for readers of this blog!
    BTW, if you do every want to find out more about the pub side, and how and why the giant pubcos generally ensure that the beers available in your local are so shit, come down to Brighton and I’ll be happy to show you around. We run two Greene King leased pubs, The Eagle which is fully tied and the Spotted Dog which is free-of-tie. We also have a freehouse, The Snowdrop Inn in Lewes, which we rescued from Punch Taverns. Can’t afford to stand you a posh hotel booking (think of us GK tenants as having paid for your jolly to BSE anyway!) but we’ve got some beers in at least two of our pubs which I think you might like.
    Best wishes,
    Tony Leonard

    • What an interesting reply.
      Thanks for the info and for being so open.
      And as for the invite…..
      A bit far away for me but one of the other CAMRGB bloggers might be up for a visit.
      Cheers!
      Simon

  18. Tony Leonard says:

    OK, well I extend the invite to all beer bloggers. Get in touch at Tony@thesnowdropinn.com. For any who haven’t been to Brighton before, I’d suggest a visit to Dark Star’s Evening Star pub as well, to see a great example of how a brewery can own a pub without cutting out the competition. I know you’d all rather concentrate on the beer because, quite frankly, so would I but for anyone interested in promoting great beer, how our pubs are run and what they are allowed to stock should be a really important issue.

  19. Ian Prise says:

    In the comments section of the BrewDog New Years Resolutions blog post, James stated that Martin and Bowman brewed a batch of Punk IPA at Thwaites for canning in November.

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  21. Profesor says:

    This was really interesting and that’s quite a unique experience. It’s also something I’ve been thinking reccently. I’d often wondered what the likes of Roger Prozt and others were thinking when they raved about very standard beers. I lost sight of what was good beer and you should judge each one accordingly.

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  23. Nick says:

    GK released a barrel of 5X for the Bury St Edmunds beer festival that they only allowed to be served in thirds. Such an amazingly tasteful drink. Cheers to GK for letting us have a taster.

  24. Pingback: Five suggestions for Greene King | Boak and Bailey's Beer Blog

  25. Guy says:

    Dear Simon,

    I have heard that some yeasts impart flavours onto beers, whilst others are more of a blank canvas. Is it possible that the ‘Greene King Taste’ is from the yeast they use for all their beers, regardless of the branding or original brewer?

    Guy

    • It could be.
      Lots of yeasts impart flavours into beer.
      Just look at the Belgians.
      But you’d think when guiding me around the brewery the brewer would probably have made a point of talking about that if it were true with Greene King.

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  27. George Thompson says:

    Re your recent Green King visit.
    There is a rule that says that no matter how good a beer is it will naturally only appeal to 33% of the the beer drinking population. Brewers have to please a wide spectrum and inevitably will produce beers which will not suit you. There are quite a number of very successful brands that I simply cannot bring myself to like and in my experience all brewers have similar likes and dislikes.
    Taking this into account I would not worry too much about your continued disappointment with Green King IPA why not try some Golden Hen?
    The great thing is there are an increasing number of great beers to choose from so you don’t need to be disappointed with beers that don’t do it for you.

    Carry on the good work!

    George

    • Thanks for getting in touch.
      I’ve tried Golden Hen, I’ve tried all the range as GK sent me a full selection, and thought pretty much all of them terrible.
      I agree with your point about there being an increasing number of great beers to try, but I think GK are simply a big company like any other big company, driven by profit alone – Hence the buying up and closing down of smaller breweries, local pubs, etc.

  28. Dick P says:

    Nice article Simon. This reminded me of the offensive pint of GK’s IPA Smooth which I had the misfortune to have. I went back and looked at my Untappd comment at the time and it was “Quite possibly the worst beer I’ve ever tried. EVER!” But in defense of GK it was selling and selling well. And I have always liked their Speckled Hen but some places can keep it better than others.

    By the way, a 1936 bottle of beer, I’ll bet that’s one you’ll have to create on Untappd!

  29. Pingback: Meet The Blogger | CAMRGB » Kavey Eats

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