Name: Fuller’s London Pride
ABV: 4.1% (draft) and 4.7% (bottled)
Bottled/ Draft: Both!
Colour: Consistent between both, a pale copper
Head: Thin but lingering on the draft; barely any on the bottle.
Mouthfeel: The fizz is strong on the bottle, a semi-lager which feels light. Much fuller body on the draft, no fizz at all and an almost creamy feel.
Initial Draft Taste: A light malt, distinct but without significant sweetness. The hops yield a wider mouthfeel and a nice bitter tail, but without any clear flavour notes of their own.
Initial Bottle Taste: More significant malt – although still not sweet – and the hops are much less in evidence. This, plus the fizz, makes it a much less interesting taste.
Initial Comment: After the last draft vs. bottled experiment, I’ve been eager to revisit this one – largely because I was so shocked by the original discovery that I preferred the bottled to the draft! As my local is a Fuller’s I realised how easy this would be, because they have Pride on tap and also in bottles in the fridge. So, trying to ignore the slightly curious look I got from the nice girl behind the bar, I ordered one of each.
Instant observations; in terms of colour they’re very similar. Other than that, the bottled is clearly fizzed (and sadly not through any sort of bottle conditioning…); looking at the label it’s also apparently 0.6% stronger. It’s been suggested that this is to preserve the flavour when the beer is pasteurised for bottling – my immediate response to that is “well bottle condition it then”, but what do I know?
I’m not getting much of an aroma from either glass; either my nose is on the blink or Pride isn’t big on smell!
On tasting; well, there’s that same “different beers” feeling I got before – in a blind taste test I’d question if they were even from the same brewery let alone theoretically the same beer. The bottled version makes me feel I’ve ordered a lager, the draft is clearly an ale. Although the flavours are distinct, I think by far the biggest factors in this difference are the aggressive carbonation of the bottle, and the fact that it arrives at fridge temperature (presumably 0-4 degrees) and the draft is at a proper cellar temperature (mid-teens I’d hazard). The coldness of the bottle suppresses the hops, which makes the malt more obvious; the fizz makes the beer taste somehow “sharper”.
I then enjoy lunch and leave both beers aside; after 30 minutes or so they’ve both warmed up (the bottled, obviously, more than the draft)
Final Draft Taste: the malt has faded as the hops have become more obvious; they’re running all through the beer and there’s another note there that I can’t quite pin down. The best my tasting notes can do is “green”; it’s not floral or fruity but there’s a freshness about it. If I didn’t know better (and given that they’re brewing it to a different strength, I *don’t* know better) I’d say they were using fresher hops (perhaps vs. pellets) in the draft.
Final Bottled Taste: again, the malt is less significant against the rising hop. Well balanced throughout, but without the extra, intriguing “green” notes I’ve found in the draft. The fizz has eased somewhat but it’s still quite lager-like in body.
Final Comments: With the loss of at least some of those bubbles, and a rising temperature, the two beers are starting to taste, if not the same then at least like siblings. The draft has lot more going on, but it’s probably still 5 degrees warmer than the bottle. If I had the patience I would leave the bottled one sat in the glass for an hour to see just how close the two could become.
Overall, I’ve got the result I expected the first time. The draft is nicer; it has a more complex flavour and a better mouthfeel. However, a lot of that seems to be down to the fact that the bottle version is served so cold, and that it’s over-gassed. Left to settle for a while and the differences become much more subtle.
I can’t do too much about the temperature (other than being patient!) – but next time I will try and find a pub which has the same beer in draft and bottle conditioned form!