Taste the difference: National beers vs local Nottingham brews – which is better?

Watch: Andrew Ludlow, secretary of Nottingham CAMRA, tries his luck in the test

Nottingham beer aficionados have the chance to put their taste buds to the test to see if they recognise the difference between local ales and national brews.

The Robin Hood (and) Little John pub, in Arnold, is holding a blind test for ale fans.

The aim is to put Nottingham’s growing reputation for good brews to the test by inviting people to pick out five locally-brewed favourites from a selection of ten anonymous beers.

The ten beers are numbered at the bar and drinkers will receive a token for each beer they try. The tokens will then be placed into ballot boxes, one for each beer, to decide which is the most – and least – popular.

Landlord David Pears said: “We want to try and change people’s perspectives of the big breweries. They know the household beers are everywhere, they know what Greene King IPA and Doom Bar are like. But do they really when it’s not on show?

“If people taste it and say: ‘Oh, that’s really nice,’ they might be like when they find out what they’ve tried: ‘I don’t usually like it.’ It’s to give people an interesting scope of both sides.”

On Draught: landlord of the pub, David Pears, is pictured posing with the ten anonymous beers on tap.

The five national beers in the ten are Green King’s IPA, Spitfire, Bombardier, Doom Bar and Bass, which will compete against ales from Lincoln Green, Castle Rock, Welbeck Abbey, Nottingham Brewery and Totally Brewed.

The tokens across three days will be counted and the result of the most popular beer will be announced on the pub’s Facebook page on Sunday.

David said: “It’s to see what people’s reactions are. It could be that they are totally shocked that Bombardier’s beer comes out on top or not surprised at all.”

The Robin Hood (and) Little John pub in Arnold.

Seventeen committee members of the Nottingham branch of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) will be attending tonight to see if they, too, can determine what they’re drinking.

Andrew Ludlow, secretary of CAMRA, went to the pub this afternoon to sample three of the pub’s mystery ales.

Secretary of CAMRA, Andrew Ludlow, ponders the taste of one of the ten ales.

The first he tried was a pale ale, which he struggled to identify.

Andrew said: “That is a lovely, pale beer – part of what I would call a new style of beer. Castle Rock has produced beers like Harvest Pale. I’ve got a feeling it could be Marion, by Lincoln Green Brewing Company, even though I find that normally a bit sharp. I don’t think it’s the Nottingham EPA.”

The second, though, another ale light in colour, saw Andrew more assured of his decision.

He said: “That one, I think, is Nottingham EPA. It’s very slightly stronger in taste, you can taste the hops more. EPA is as it’s described: Extra Pale Ale. It tends to have that extra bite to it. It’s a 4.2 per cent beer ABV.”

The third brew, meanwhile, slightly darker and bitter, was a “traditional beer”, according to Andrew.

He added: “It’s beautifully balanced, lots of hops in there. It could be a national brew. The only thing is that national brands have a tendency to be well-rounded beers with a good, solid taste. This has got a touch of extra in it. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s one of the others. Welbeck brewery do a Henrietta drop, it could be this one. The chances of me getting them right, however, are not overly good.”

So was Andrew right? David’s not telling. It’s important no-one gets tipped off to make the vote count, he says.

The Macro vs Micro event launches tonight (Thursday, November 17) and runs until Saturday (November 19) between 7pm to 11pm. Pints cost £3.30, but the ales can be tasted in halves and thirds.

Any connoisseur who can guess all ten ales will win a gallon of beer.

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