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Classic Beer of the Month September 2016: Fuller's London Pride

Fuller's London Pride, 4.1%

Fuller’s pubs are doing rather well, thank you. They’re by no means the cheapest pubs around but the quality of the environment and service is generally high.

Fuller's London PrideReal effort is made with the food provision, too, but for me the significant factor in the estate’s success is its beers.

That may sound like a rather obvious statement to make about a company that is, at heart, a brewery, but compared with other major breweries whose interest is now very clearly on bricks and mortar rather than supplying high-quality, interesting beers, it’s easy to see how Fuller’s stands out.

The brewers at Chiswick are very pro-active. It’s not just a question of rolling through the same old brews with the odd seasonal thrown in to add a splash of colour.

The core range at Fuller’s seems always to be in a state of flux. In recent years, they’ve dropped the golden ale Discovery and replaced it with another called Oliver’s Island, for example.

The range of seasonals is now extensive and well worth waiting for, with highlights including the IPA Bengal Lancer and the winter beer Jack Frost, and there are also excellent bottled beers, most notably 1845 and Vintage Ale, adding depth to the repertoire.

But even if the company wasn’t so inventive and just fell back on its tried-and-tested stalwarts it would take some beating. ESB, at 5.5% ABV, packs a punch but is no alcoholic bully. It’s a class act, as described on these pages in May 2014.

Gale’s HSB – a survivor from the closure of the Horndean brewery – appeals to those with a slightly sweeter tooth, and the company’s flagship brew, London Pride, proves that you can create a national brand without sacrificing character and quality.


Yes, the reach of this beer now means that you will inevitably discover a less than optimum pint in some outlets but catch Pride on top form and you will savour one of the finest cask ale experiences.

The beer was only introduced by Fuller’s in 1959 but it seems like it’s been around for ever. This was the beer that many provincial drinkers headed into the capital to drink in the 1970s and 80s, perhaps spurred on by its CAMRA Champion Beer of Britain win in 1979.

While the odds of achieving that distinction again are small, given the scale of the competition these days, it still has the quality to stand out in a room full of beers.

The grist of pale, crystal and chocolate malts produces a bright amber colour and a faintly bready sweetness on the first sip. This is soon balanced out by measured bitterness from the Target, Golding, Northdown and Challenger hops that, together with the effects of the Fuller’s yeast, also bring a hint of orange to the palate.

The beer dries on the swallow and leaves a developing, yet always mellow, bitterness, that is delivered through a smack of herbal, tangy hops.

This is a beer that doesn’t pander to hop heads or those who demand a richly malty flavour. The balance here is spot on, making it a highly quaffable beer, with plenty of body and depth for its 4.1% alcohol (4.7% in bottle).

It slips down very easily and yet remains interesting to the last drop.

The pumpclip for the beer describes it, rather immodestly as ‘outstanding’. That’s quite a boast but it’s made with some justification, I think.

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