Brewsday: Fuller’s London Pride

I love this beer.  I love it.

…well, that was easy.  How’s everyone?  Doing good?  Yeah, it’s been cold out lately.  I’m looking forward to the Superbowl, too!  Cardinals are a long shot, but–

What?  Oh!  A review. Gotcha.

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I’ve had Fuller’s London Pride on tap in exactly two pubs in the world; one is the local dive where I got to know Tina, and the other at a hotel bar in San Diego while I was down there for a work event.  I was so stupidly excited to find it in the latter case that I hung around the bar until 11:30 AM to order a pint, while the waitstaff got the bar ready for the day and wondered whether they were going to endure a salesman with an alcohol problem.

Ha ha ha ha!  I’m just kidding, I was at a technical conference: salesmen with alcohol problems were absolutely littering the place.  Drinking is all salesmen do at technical conferences!  They certainly don’t go to learn anything — just ask the technical people.

But the important thing is, I was the only one surprised and delighted by seeing London Pride on tap, which I suppose weirded the staff out a bit.  In among all the client reps and tech consultants and sales executives nursing Bloody Caesars, here was someone hopping up and down at the prospect of an amber ale.  It must have been confusing for them, but a fellow cannot help his appetites.

For the sake of clarity, though, allow me to sweep aside at least a little of why it’s such a fun beer:

  1. It’s really, really good.  I’ll get into that in a bit.
  2. The tap is operated by hand pump.  For real, the bartender has to literally pump the beer up through the tap, just like the good old days when pubs didn’t have compressed air and chilled lines and sanitary standards and minimum wages and stuff!  Just the heft of their arms, the strength of their brew, and the deliciously suggestive motion of pulling beer from their taps.
  3. I used to order London Pride from Tina a lot, and she made it look sexy. And now you know… the rest of the story.

I’ll be honest, these points are not in their original priority, and I am a total pervert for my girlfriend.  But what was so significant about the San Diego is that the beer had merits beyond Tina’s talents with serving it to me, and that was my opportunity to find out what they were.

London Pride is what’s known as a session beer, which is a tasting term you see pop up every now and again.  It generally applies to brews that are full-bodied but low in alcohol content, the kind you can stand a chance of settling in for the afternoon with and still find your feet afterward.   These beers are definitely more about the flavor than the booze, and thus are the perfect sort for watching sports or shooting the breeze at a pub some evening.

This beer embodies the concept, with a ruddy amber color and a bright hoppy flavor as its chief features.  It’s not a fizzy one, but that doesn’t dull the bright, hoppy flavor that hits you high and fast on the first sip.  You might think it an insane comparison, but if you think about how Guinness slams you with its coffee-molasses-but-only-4.5%-heartiness, London Pride operates on the same basis.  It comes on strong on flavor and light on liquor, and you can pick up a six-pack of them for a football afternoon without feeling much guilt.

And I do mean that, by the way.  A lot of beers that make the leap from tap to can or bottle don’t do so all that smoothly, but London Pride survives.  As an ale, it doesn’t rely on a can-borne gadget or nitrogen-dispensing gizmo to mimic the texture you’d get from a pint out of the tap; yet, it still carries all the hoppy brightness, malty base and clean finish you’d find anywhere.

I tried to make my bias clear from the outset, but make no mistake:  even if it didn’t have a permanent emotional connection to how much I adore my girlfriend, and even if it weren’t for the delightful novelty of a hand-pulled pump at the bar, London Pride is a beer worth drinking.  If the best you can do is the cans you find at the liquor store, you’ll still be miles ahead of any number of its competitors.

Good value, good beer, and reminds me that Tina is sexy.  Is there any question?

Rating: 5 Londons out of 5.

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  • http://www.kalofagas.blogspot.com Peter

    Mike, last Friday my friends & I went to a cool little bar called “The Only Cafe” and the fridges were stacked with obscure beers…thought of you when I was imbibing.

    http://www.theonlycafe.com/home.html

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      Awesome! I can’t wait to get down there and drink even more beer nobody on this continent has ever heard of.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Choosy Beggar Tina

    You don’t need a BEER to remind you that I’m sexy. I tell you that every day!

    (PS – you were always my favorite)

  • http://thespitefulchef.blogspot.com kristie

    You know, I almost stopped reading completely when I saw that you were trying to pimp a beer using the virtue of “you can keep drinking and drinking and never get a decent buzz.’ That’s like me trying to sell one of my single friends to a guy I know by saying “you can just keep buying her dinner and buying her dinner, and she’ll NEVER make with the head!”

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      If it’s any consolation, as his former server I can safely say that Mike got a buzz when he was there. Three sheets to the buzz, if you know what I mean….

      • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

        I’m going to go ahead and guess that nobody was worried about that.

  • http://www.anotherpintplease.blogspot.com Mike

    London Pride is a great beer. So they had it on cask? Brilliant!

  • Alan

    I just stumbled across your site about 3 minutes ago and I loved this post about Fuller’s. I don’t know where you call home, but if you’re ever in Denver, visit the British Bulldog (www.britishbulldogdenver.com) where they hand pull Pride and Fuller’s ESB. Simply the best place in the Denver.

  • Joe

    If you are ever in Richmond, VA. stop in at the Pennylane Pub. They have both London Pride and Porter on tap, and the Beatles play all night long. (if you can handle that sort of thing.)

  • Kel Varnsen

    Where in Canada, can you get London Pride from a hand pulled tap, since I need to go there? The few places in Ottawa that have it have it in a pressurized keg (which is still pretty good). I had the hand pulled version in England and it is so much better.

    • outside_observer

      Finally found one in Toronto. Artful Dodger by Yonge and Gloucester. First floor is as close as you`ll get to an English pub in Toronto, second floor is the North American version of an English Pub.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

    I had it at the Duchess of Markham, and I’m trying to remember where else. There’s at least one or two places in downtown Toronto that offer it hand-pulled, but they’re not leaping to mind… Bier Markt might be the other one that I’m thinking of.

    If I could remember which hotel bar it was in San Diego, well, that’d be 3 places that I know of. 🙂

    You’re right though, it’s entirely worth it.