Friday’s overrated beer: Bass Ale

is ubiquitous. It’s the oldest trademark in Britain. The bottle was depicted in a Monet painting. It’s often considered the pinnacle of beer by people who rarely venture out of Busch-land.

And it sucks.

OK. Mayby it doesn’t exactly suck, but it lacks body and character. Other English pale ales, such as blow bass out of the water (sic) in terms of body, balance, and general character of the beer.

I guess Bass’ strongest positive is that it’s available everywere. Mostr restaurants carry it, and you can get it in the British Airways Club Lounge (provided Snoop hasn’t totally trashed the place). It’s blandness also helps make it less of an acquired taste than many of the craft beers.

At any rate, you won’t ever find it in my fridge.


9 thoughts on “Friday’s overrated beer: Bass Ale

  1. I agree with your assessment.

    Bass is the Becks (or Heineken) of Britain.

    There are others that can represent the style better.

  2. You can slam on the blandness and everyday flavor of Bass till the troops come home. But as far as Bass being available everywhere you’re wrong, I can name bars in your town that have the audacity to keep a neon Bass sign in the window, baiting Bass drinkers inside only to find that there’s not a drop of the stuff behind the bar. It’s like going to Wal-Mart and finding no forless. I recall being at a loss for words. An empty feeling that some domestic home/small brewed concoction of hops, wheat and whatever the hell else is the zeitgeist of beer-making will always fail to fill. I also like the big red triangle.

  3. BLF, sure, that’ll happen because distributors give breweries those signs and stock eventually rotates. But go to any fine-dining restaurant in the northeast and you’ll ALWAYS find the ubiquitous 3: Sam Adams, Heineken and Bass Ale. It gives consumers the impression that these are the beer analogs of their high-end wine list; the best the beer world has to offer. And that’s why Bass is overrated.

  4. A coupla things from a Brit brewer (younger & smaller than the Brazilian/Belgie-owned Bass)

    I think it was Manet, not Monet

    & the triangle AFAIK was Britain & *the world’s* first registered TM. (scan down to the odd tale of Bass’s wee scam on the 1st day of registration)
    PS did you go back & re-try a previous overrated beer – Sam Adams? If so, what did you think?

  5. Mike, I did try Sam Adams again when I found myself sentenced to six hours in the Baltimore Airport. It tasted unspectacular, but good; better than I remembered it. It certainly helped kill the time 🙂

    By the way, I checked out your brewery page and I like what you’re doing. I hope for a chance to try your beer someday.


  6. Bass is one of the beers which can be very ordinary or world class depending on the circumstances. It’s clearly at its best as a well kept cask ale and even then it’s often sold too green.But I’ve had some superb pints served by gravity ; it seems to put on weight and is so different from the sorry stuff in bottles or cans.

  7. I once had an interesting conversation with a very knowledgeable hop merchant – he said prior to being taken over by Interbrew (aka Stella Artois / InBev, etc) Bass’s flagship brew had a defined hop character, from the use of particular UK varieties (Northdown & Challenger, if memory serves). They had contracts with growers, via the hop merchants to guarantee the supply of their favoured hops.

    Soon after the business was sold, the story was that the new owners decided it made more economic sense not to pay a premium for expensive low-ish alpha-acid UK varities, but to buy on the open world market – i.e. whoever was selling alpha-acid at the cheapest price (China, Russia?) basically regardless of flavour.

  8. Buddy, I think you somehow swilled a case of ditch water in your assessment of Bass Pale Ale. If you had the slightest clue as to what to look for in a British style Pale Ale, you’d see that its ‘blandness’ is mistaken for the lack of large-vat carbonation that your commercial lager-styled beers possess. Although, the fact that your taste buds could have long rotted out of your skull from drinking cheap, garbage light beers may contribute to the low rating you gave Bass. Cheers!


  9. the genuine burton brewed bottle conditioned (yeast deposit in bottle)white shield worthington and bass red triangle of the 1960s (and of course earlier),a pure delight to behold and savour.
    at 56 deg.F.decant with tender loving care into spotlessly clean appropriate ale glass and you had a sparkling ‘moreish’ ale.(which you will not forget for many years ahead.)
    wish I could pour one to-day.

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