Late last week, as the servers holding this very site bowed under the sheer volume of user interest, a hardy band of correspondents ventured forth to a pub for some drinks, not an unusual occurrence of a Friday evening it must be said, but perhaps better needed on this occasion.
The venue for those drinks, the Lord John Russell, is always a dependable place. It’s popular, certainly, though not usually completely rammed. It has friendly staff. It has a great selection of well-kept ales — so many, in fact, that the pump handles form a formidable physical barrier across the bar. Plus, it has pies and crisps and pork scratchings and Smith’s Bacon Fries: everything you need to enjoy your pint with, in short.
More intriguingly, it now turns out to be at the cutting edge of beer innovation, for, courtesy of Budvar, it has a third mixer tap for its Budvar Original and Budvar Dark beers, entitled the “Half and Half”.
Of course, this may not be such a recent innovation. Not only is this apparently common back in the Czech Republic, but this very site has presciently already documented such a combination (verdict: not great). Perhaps a mixture between the Budvars would improve it?
The dedicated mixing tap isn’t even new though, as a Budvar press release makes it clear that the Half & Half tap has been in place for the better part of the last year at a bar in Croydon — named, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Half and Half. The deepest southern purlieus of London may not be beyond Freaky Trigger’s ambit (some of us have fond memories of the Half & Half’s former incarnation as Beer Circus), but suffice it to say, the innovation did pass us by when it was merely Croydon-based.
As for Budvar itself, their blonde lager has been a standby for me whenever I’m in the mood for a lager and it’s available on the bar, a dependably refreshing drink, and if it’s a little unexciting, it’s surely better than any homegrown alternatives. Budvar Dark is, though more rarely sighted, a far tastier lager, toasty and rich yet still sprightly on the palate.
Surely mixing the two, as some commentators suggest, would create a whole greater than the sum of its constituent parts?
Well, not really, though you may of course differ. It’s certainly an attractive burnished colour when poured, and has a bit more taste to it than the regular blonde, but it’s not the sucker-punch of lager greatness I’d been led to expect, and I’d tend to go for a pint of the richer Budvar Dark over it. Or indeed, a pint of tasty ale. The Wadworth 6X was on fine form that evening.
Still, this Budvar innovation is certainly not unwelcome, surely more so than some other brewers’ indifferent efforts. And we can only hope to have more to taste test in future, as it’s been a few years. In fact, do feel free to pass on any news of further innovations from the beer world. Otherwise, we shall just have to consider relocating to Croydon.