May 08

I Drank All Night: Bass

FT + Pumpkin Publog7 comments • 1,169 views

bass.jpgWe had a lovely night out last night, to celebrate Carsmile Steve’s birthday*, in the Ship, a wonderful Fitzrovia tat filled boozer. We’ve been there before, and as then, and now the key thing to note is that they only have one ale on offer, and that ale is Bass. Bass is a wonderfully historic beer brand in the UK which I have not seen on a pump in the UK for almost ten years. The Red Triangle on the side or outside a pub was one of my earliest remembered pieces of branding**, and Bass were known as much, if not more, for their pub ownership than their beer. Merged, merged, and merged again, this ex-Burton brewer no longer seems to exist. The beer can still be bought abroad, it is the “British Beer” often available on draft in New York. And yet I have not seen it in the UK for ages. Owned now by InBev, the beer is now brewed in the UK by Marston’s (back in Burton-Upon-Trent) though Coors own the brand. And in the States our friends at Anheuser-Busch licence and brew it keg style. (As ever thanks to the Wiki).

But back to the Ship last night, where three Bass pumps smiled happily at me. So due to lack of choice and partially because I wanted to, I drank Bass all night. And hence the resurrection of this rarely seen FT column, when I try to describe the kind of drunk Bass made me – and everyone else there who was drinking it.

Let’s work backwards on this one. I got to the pub lateish (for me) so probably had only four pints, but this morning there was a definite presence hanging over me. Perhaps the famous red triangle was, like road signs of the similar shape, denoting a warning. Dehydrated, and surly, it was the feeling after a good night out. And working back from there, when I got in after drinking it I had bags of energy. I also managed to read on the bus quite happily without being too drunk, so its strong, but not in a mind addling way. Indeed I remember having some rather spirited but cogent arguments on the way out of the pub. High spirits in the pub too, where everyone seemed flush with bonhomie (and playing an anti-practical joke on someone helped). The beer itself was well kept but not much to write home about, a typical reliable Burton Ale. But whilst it lingers a touch, it was conducive to a really fun night out.

I drank Bass All Night and I was happy.

*Though it wasn’t his birthday and was actually Steve M, FT site designers birthday. Which make sit all quite confusing really.

**Turns out that the Bass Triangle is the UK’s first ever trademark!


  1. 1
    Tracer Hand on 16 May 2008 #

    i was also in a fantastic mood! Although I attribute this to imminent holiday + good folks rather than the beer which was too velvety for me. Not enough BITE.

  2. 2
    Matt on 16 May 2008 #

    Have you really not seen it on tap for 10 years ? I don’t see it as often as I would like, but I guess I still see it around every few months or so.

    Having said that, I couldn’t tell you what the last of those places was (possibly the Dovetail in Broadway Market)

  3. 3
    jeff w on 16 May 2008 #

    Yeah, I thought Bass was still fairly prevalent. Most recent sighting: about a month ago in Chipping Norton (although of course I always drink Hooky there).

  4. 4
    CarsmileSteve on 16 May 2008 #

    I think that’s quite a reasonable description of bass drunk although thanks to the generosity of my friends i certainly had more than four…

  5. 5
    Tom on 16 May 2008 #

    I think I ended up on 6, plus a shandy Bass. I was woken with indigestion at an early hour and there was definitely a looming, rather than piercing hangover. My concentration was low all day and so was my motivation, but I think that’s the day of the week more than anything else.

    Also agree on the energy: on leaving the pub I walked briskly and happily from Goodge St to Charing Cross – not an enormous walk but I don’t think I’d have bothered without beer legs.

  6. 6
    byebyepride on 16 May 2008 #

    mmmm… Hooky.

  7. 7
    Lennie on 29 May 2008 #

    I worked in a Bass pub a few years back, when the became Six Continents (and went belly up I think). One of those corporate machinations that turns all of the history and grandeur of an institution into an insidious faceless conglomerate with all the appeal of spending a night with Tony Blair. Still I enjoy a pint of Bass and I say fuck you to Six Continents every time.

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