Simon of http://youtube.com/RealAleGuide joins me via Skype to review a beer from his neck of the woods - Boddingtons Pub Ale (or, "Boddingtons Draught Bitter" in the UK). Much like the last time we did a review, this is two slightly different versions of the same beer. In the UK the ABV is only 3.5% but the export version is 4.7% ABV. I believe the cask version is a different number too. Since this is a "traditional" English bitter pub ale let's see how a traditional Welsh beer drinker and a modern American hophead react to this beer!
3AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 5/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 11/20
Appearance: Dark gold/amber color, clear body. No carbonation bubbles, but the nitrogen widget forms a large, bright white, creamy head that retains forever and leaves plenty of whipped cream-like lacing all over the glass.
Smell: There isn’t much for the nose to detect here aside from a very generic English bitter ale scent of some grain and a subtle fruit aroma.
Taste: Boddingtons is not the kind of beer you drink for the taste, it’s the kind of beer you drink for it’s lack of taste. English bitters tend to have a deliberately mild palate and this beer is a great example of that. The head imparts a sweet creaminess and follows by a bland, generic ale palate. There’s nothing particularly off-putting about the taste here since it’s not very bitter, and there’s a very subtle malty sweetness as well. That being said, it’s the overt lack of taste that turns me away from this beer. I’ve had it on tap, cask and out of the can and all three times I’ve struggled to find enjoyable flavors, but more than that - I’ve struggled to find flavors at all. This beer is essentially the ale equivalent of a fizzy yellow macro lager in that its neutral taste is almost a compliment.
Drinkability: For a beer allegedly brewed in the traditional English bitter style, Boddingtons makes a point of saying to serve cold. This makes it quite refreshing, which isn’t surprising considering the bland, watery body and thin, cold, wet mouthfeel. It would be an ideal beer to have with pub fare, but not something I’d reach for on a hot day. At only 4.7% ABV (3.5% ABV in the UK) is it technically sessionable, but it’s such a boring beer to drink I’m not sure you would want more than one serving.
Overall, Boddingtons isn’t a bad beer, really. It’s definitely drinkable and its mildness would probably make it quite palatable to anyone. Still, I need more than a lack of badness to truly enjoy a beer.