I began kicking myself in earnest for not having entered Ye Olde Blue Bell in Preston’s Church Street since at least the early 1990s around one second after I landed at the bar of said boozer Wednesday night and remembered it was a Samuel Smith’s house.
How could I forget? Mostly because on my last visit the jar of choice almost certainly contained the young lad about town’s generic ‘lager’, it being much later a taste for the ‘real’ thing came along.
In any case I soon stopped kicking, started supping, and where better to start than with the oldest (founded 1758) brewery in Yorkshire’s Extra Stout?
A bit of black stuff second only to the Guinness one takes in the free air of the Republic, the pot was lightened markedly in the tick it took to take a seat in the large and reassuringly old-fashioned saloon.
Lighter head than Big G, if still creamy, but what lies beneath is the key here.
A heady roasted blast gives way to layers of coffee, plain chocolate and liquorice – a real complex mouthful – which somehow manages to slip away at the swallow to a bitter, clean finish.
Grimly sticking to my self-imposed mission of sampling a number of ales when available, I tapped the friendly bar-keep for guidance bitter-wise (their being a range of options from the Tadcaster outfit).
The Sovereign Bitter was her tip, and pleasant enough it was. Thin and white in the head, the taste was of a light, sweetcaramel biscuit. Dry at the end. Not bad. But not a show-stopper... That job fell to Pure Brewed Organic Lager, and like all good shows it left me wanting more.
Lemon and hoppy on the nose, light sparkle and deeply refreshing, it came across like some sweet missing link between German wheatbeer and Indian Pale Ale.
So obviously I’ll be back – and this time it won’t take 20+ years – and can’t help but think that once the centre improvements finish in this end of town so will a great many more long time absentees.
With external refurbishment underway and beer like this, at great prices, a very warm welcome awaits them.
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