Austin News


Every cloud has a silver lining

One of the few downsides about carrying imported beers, especially draft beers, on the menu is that supplies can sometimes be erratic and we occasionally run out of something rather good. But that can give us an opportunity to tap a keg of something else that's just as good, or maybe even a little better, and today is one of those days.

We've had Wells Bombardier English Premium Bitter on the menu for several months here at Lamar and it's proven to be a popular choice, but with 5,000 miles between us and the brewery, plus the vagaries of the US Customs service, Bombardier is going to be out of stock for a few weeks, and that gives us a spare tap to play with! Fuller's ESB to the rescue!!!

Fuller, Smith and Turner PLC is headquartered at the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, west London. The company was founded in 1845 and members of all three families are still involved with the business. A mere 14 years earlier Charles Young had bought the Ram Brewery, situated a few miles away and on the other side of the Thames in Wandsworth. In 2006 Youngs merged with Charles Wells Brewing to become Wells and Youngs... who brew Bombardier! Spooky.

ESB has a bit of story too.  In the early part of the 20th century Fullers brewed a beer called Old Burton Extra, or OBE. Burton Ale (named after the Mecca of brewing, Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire) is an old beer style that's hard to find these days and is one of the forerunners of today's barley wines. It was a sweet, dark beer with a high ABV (10% and above, usually), and OBE was said to be able to floor even the hardest drinker.

But by the 1960s British beer drinkers were moving away from beers like Burton Ale, mild and other sweet, malty beers for the lighter (in both ABV and colour) and more hoppy bitter that's so associated with British brewing today, so Fullers decided to end production of OBE in 1969 and it was replaced with a strong pale ale called Winter Bitter, which in turn became ESB. Fuller's ESB is regarded as the original Extra Special Bitter (which is a notch above Best Bitter, which in turn is a notch above Ordinary Bitter), and I believe they've even trademarked the name, so while you find several ESBs in the US (including our house beer, Drafthouse ESB), you'll only find one British brewed ESB in the UK.

Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson

News Categories: Austin, Beer


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