| Beer, IPA, Marketing

Bass Ale is back. I wish I were more delighted.

A new press release about the rejuvenation of Britain’s most famous ever beer brand causes more problems than it solves. 

Oh, you shouldn’t have! No, really. 

I don’t go out of my way to drip withering scorn on Anheuser Busch-InBev, but they always seem to be able to trigger me when they announce the launch of a new beer. A few years ago I did a conference presentation on how (and how not) to do innovation, and when I illustrated this with numerous examples of rubbish launches, it started to look like a vendetta against the world’s biggest brewery. It wasn’t meant to be. They just gave me more instances of all that was wrong with marketing hype, more consistently, than any other brewer.

And so we come to last week’s announcement that Bass Ale is returning to the UK, and a launch which is pretty much a perfect case study in corporate bullshit being sprayed over something the corporation in question neither knows nor cares about.

A bit of background: Bass found fame in the early 19th century as the quintessential IPA (when IPAs tended just to be called ‘pale ales’.) Brewed in Burton on Trent, it superseded Allsopp’s, the town’s original big hitter in India, and went on to become the first ever global beer brand. Its distinctive red triangle was famous all across the British Empire and beyond, and became the UK’s first ever registered trademark, narrowly missing out to German brand Krupp’s in being the world’s first, in any product category. Bass was so admired that less talented, less scrupulous brewers would simply copy the label and pass off their own beers as Bass, necessitating the move.

By the mid-twentieth century the allure of IPA had faded, but Bass was still one of the biggest and most famous beer brands in the UK when a period of rapid consolidation began among breweries. The second wave of this consolidation in the late 1990s saw Inbev acquire Bass – by then a massive conglomerate still based in Burton on Trent – only to be referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. They ended up having to sell most of Bass (the company) to what is now Molson Coors, but confusingly held on to Bass (the beer) and proceeded to largely ignore it in the UK for the next twenty years. When approached and asked if they didn’t want it, AB-InBev replied they would sell UK licensing rights (inaccurately reported as being for an outright sale of the brand) for £15 million – essentially a massive middle finger extended to anyone who thought the world’s most legendary beer deserved better than the neglect they were showing it.

So now, instead of selling or ignoring it, AB-InBev is apparently relaunching it. I should be happy about this. I don’t think I am. With reference to this article, here’s why.

1.The headline: AB-InBev announce they are ‘bringing back’ Bass ale to the UK on-trade.

No it isn’t, because Bass Ale never left the UK on-trade, despite appearances. It’s been brewed under licence by Marston’s for years. It’s simply been given no support by its owners. Where you occasionally found it, it wasn’t bad – if it had been treated right. So the headline is factually inaccurate, and merely draws attention to the fact that if it ever felt like Bass had disappeared from the UK, this was entirely AB-InBev’s fault.

2. The picture: ‘Imported Pale Ale’.

The same visual used at the top of this blog has accompanied every story about this launch in the UK drinks trade press, so it is obviously the image that was sent out by AB-InBev themselves with the release (or at least, I’m assuming it is – for some reason, they no longer send me their press releases directly. Can’t think why.) The reason they won’t sell Bass to anyone else is that even though they may not care about it in the UK, it makes a lot of money for them as an exported beer to markets such as the US and Japan. The image accompanying the story about relaunching Bass in the UK clearly shows a bottle of Bass saying that it is ‘imported’. So either:

(a) They’re planning on brewing UK Bass abroad, for some unfathomable reason, or

(b) They’re going to dishonestly sell beer brewed in Britain as a beer imported to the UK, for reasons, again, that I cannot possibly fathom, or

(c) They couldn’t even be bothered to find an image of what UK Bass will look like to accompany the announcement of its relaunch. If it’s launching in December as stated, the new label – if there is a different one – will have been signed off months ago. But they couldn’t even be arsed to find a reference to it.

3. AB-InBev is launching Bass is to ‘reinvigorate’ and ‘reignite’ the UK’s premium ale category. 

The sheer, Trumpish arrogance of it. The UK’s premium ale category is doing just fine, thanks. The astonishing growth of craft beer means that nearly one in four pints in the UK on-trade is now cask ale or craft beer in other formats. Even when you take craft out, ‘premium’ ale is doing way better than ‘standard’. BBPA data shows ‘premium ale’ is more or less steady in volume terms in the on-trade. But here comes AB-InBev to the rescue of a category they haven’t cared about since they arrived in this country. The category doesn’t need ‘reigniting’! Its already on fire. Which is of course the real reason they’re now relaunching Bass after all this time, to exploit a healthy category rather than altruistically reigniting a struggling one. 

The press release also reminds us that AB-InBev owns Stella Artois and Budweiser. Without disclosing the actual figures, the Marston’s On-Trade Beer Report shows that in the on-trade, Stella Artois is in single digit decline, Budweiser is in double-digit decline, and so is Stella 4%. Maybe ‘re-ignite’ your core brands first, eh guys?

4. ‘The beer will be made at AB-InBev’s brewery in Samlesbury, Lancashire.’ 

Because in a market where provenance, tradition and heritage are some of the key drivers, who gives toss where an iconic beer is brewed, am I right? Bass pale ale made Burton-on-Trent the most famous ale brewing town in the world. Across the planet today, pale ale brewers still ‘Burtonise’ their water to give it the unique mineral profile that made Bass so famous. Bass is being brewed right now under license in Burton, by Marston’s. But yeah, let’s relaunch this premium, iconic brand that’s indelibly associated with the world’s most beer town by making it in a factory in another county. While we’re at it, let’s make Cornish pasties in Croatia, Roquefort cheese in Slough, and vintage champagne in Barnsley. Because it doesn’t matter.

5. ‘Bass was the world’s first pale ale.’/’Bass is a pale ale pioneer’.

Oh fuck off. I’m sorry (I’m trying to rein in the bad language and anger on this blog and sounds more professional) but fuck the fuck off. Even the most cursory reading of the history of pale ale/IPA shows this simply isn’t true. Bass was not even Burton-on-Trent’s first pale ale, let alone the world’s. Readily available records of ‘pale ale’ go back at least 160 years before Bass was even founded.  Allsopp’s were sending pale ale from Burton to India for almost a decade before Bass got in on the act.  There are only two possibilities here: either AB-InBev haven’t even been bothered to read about the history of the brand they’re relaunching, or they are knowingly lying. The problem in this press release – as in any other by this company – is their clear display that all this stuff is just marketing copy to them, to be used in the moment as they see fit, whether it’s accurate or not.

6. ‘We can’t wait to reintroduce shoppers to this historic brand.’

Bear in mind that this is a story specifically about reintroducing Bass to pubs. They could have said ‘pub-goers’, ‘people’, drinkers’, even that lazy catch-all ‘consumers’ – given that beer is actually consumed – but they choose to describe punters at the bar in a pub as ‘shoppers’ instead. To my mind, this suggests that’s all AB-InBev see people as – entities that shop. All that matters is that you buy the beer and hand over your money. But even my assumption is true, it’s still a weird thing to say out loud. No one else describes pub-goers as ‘shoppers’ – it just sounds wrong. It makes it sound like you don’t understand what a pub is. A halfway competent PR might have said, “You know what? This may be typical of the eerily robotic language we use internally, but maybe we should change it to something that sounds more normal and human if we’re speaking publicly.”

They didn’t.

7. “5.1%” 

I don’t mind that Bass ale is 5.1% ABV. That sounds good, in line with what the style should be. What I do mind is that this is the only detail they see fit to mention about the beer itself. We get stuff about its illustrious history (which AB-InBev had nothing to do with.) We get stuff about its success as an export beer. But true to form for the world’s largest brewery which in fact cares nothing whatsoever about beer, there are no details at all about what ‘shoppers’ can expect if they drink Bass pale ale as opposed to just buying it. Is it brewed to a traditional Bass recipe? Given the focus is on bottles, will it be bottle-conditioned or not? What hops are in it? Will it differ at all from the existing cask version? Is it brewed with traditional British barley or has it been re-worked? FOR GOD’S SAKE WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE? These are the things that people who are truly interested in the premium ale category care about. They seem not to have occurred to the company that thinks it is going to ‘reinvigorate’ that category.

I hope the relaunched Bass ale is a phenomenal beer. I truly do. I’ve probably written more about this brand than any other beer. In the history of food and drink, it is comparable to champagne or cognac in its significance. If it tastes great, I will buy it (can’t imagine there’ll be samples in the post) and I will publicly say that it tastes great. But when the most interesting thing they can say in the press release is that a beer with the same name (I doubt it’s actually the same beer) went down with the Titanic, I only get a sinking feeling.

*Update, 19th November*

I asked AB-InBev on Twitter about the ‘imported’ claim in point 2, above, and they had the courtesy to reply.

It turns out that the bottle featured here is the right bottle, and that AB-InBev do in fact plan on selling Bass dishonestly in the UK as an ‘imported beer’. Their exact response was ‘The name is a nod to its international popularity and to differentiate it from other Bass ales in the UK.’

As I pointed out in response, it’s great that they want to talk to British drinkers about the success of a British-brewed beer overseas. But the correct word to use here would be ‘exported’ – the precise opposite of the word they intend to use on the bottle. The fact that they are also selling the beer in the US-format 355ml bottle instead of the standard UK measures of 330ml or 500ml also leads me to conclude that this is a deliberate and knowing attempt to mislead British drinkers into thinking Bass Ale is an imported beer. That’s why I have now reported this to the Trading Standards Authority.



Michael Kiesling

Maybe they’ll update Bass by using Cascade hops so it’ll taste like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. ; ) Always great to read your wise and humorous words. Thanks.


Bass Ale has always been my favorite beer, and much like the wonderful nut brown from Newcastle, which has been Americanized, Bass is almost impossible to find.
I live in Chicago and vacation often in Sarasota Florida and it is rare indeed when I actually see a 12 pack.
InBev does what accountants, bankers and lawyers do, monetize everything at the expense and of quality.
I despise what has happened to Bass and Newcastle.

Peter Chamberlain 89

Shame, Bass was destroyed by UK government in 1989 then they found 4 years later they made a mistake. But too late, impossible to reverse what had been done to ossify CAMRA who didn’t like Bass being was so. It destroys UK pub trade, thousands of pubs closed removing because the best beer ever was lost to them. The pub was the local social club to meet mates who only drank Bass, they didn’t want to try alternatives. Once they had sold all but 200 of their pubs the brewery lost the trade they had been supply for over 200 years. I worked at Bass all my working life moving through many jobs from office boy at 14years old to HQ development manager retiring job before it was destroyed by government.
The country is still saying why are so many pubs closing? The pub companies must have made millions cashing in on the property ground values which Bass had built up over 200 years. Another self destruct as UK does so well.



Bob Purcell

I had thought the perfectly avoidable downfall of this beer was exclusively the fault of my country’s clueless investor class (whom I’da thought had enough taste in beer, at least, to know better.) I feel somewhat less guilty now.

Joseph Gadberry

Tons of it here in SC. In fact some stores only sell it in cases of 24 or more. I haven’t tried it since the relaunch, but I fucking intend to.

J Michael

I actually enjoyed Bass for the first time recently. Now I put it with my Guinness for a Black n Tan (Usually use Harp).
Not bad, I’ll keep some in my fridge now!

Steve Eiland

I first discovered Bass at a Hooters in downtown Dallas in the early 90s. I fell instantly in love with this smooth tasting but ass kicking ale on the spot. I always had a 12 in the fridge and enjoyed as a cigar smoker enjoys a good cigar. My delimna is that I can no longer find it. Anywhere! Last place I found it was in a little liquor/beer store outside of Hot Springs. I bought all they had. Haven’t seen it sense. What dumba$$ decided Bass was a bad idea? Is this another brilliant idea by Anheuser Busch? Why can’t our American geniuses leave things alone. After all it’s only been successfully around for 2 centuries! Idiots!

Lichfield Staffordshire

Bass was the best beer in the world..
By Adding MAZE..


‘Shoppers’ Pete. This means that they’re intending to sell in the off trade only, most likely. And that means that they’re just looking for a shop window to justify the struggling international sales that actually it is available in the market it comes from. Alas, the brand and the beer are lost to us now. Best to cut ties and remember it when it was a great beer brewed by people who gave a f*ck (hey! me being one of them!).


Shoppers, eh?

Quite like that.

The missus “Where are you going?’
Me “Shopping!”

Arriving 8 hours later, pissed as a fart.

“Thought you were going Shopping?”
“I did”

William Holt

I just bought a twelve pack. I have fond memories of Bass ale and British ales are the standard to measure by. Sorry but it tastes like Budweiser. Brewed in the US. Never to buy again.

Al Ward

Draught Bass,two words that thrill the old drinker in me,the sparkle of it,the sulphur Burton snatch smell as you raise the glass to your mouth for the first taste.A true King of cask ales,mentioned in Kipling portrayed in Manets Bar of the Folies Bergeres reduced to this by fucking Yank brewers.Jesus wept


Rest in peace. One of the great beers.
Why would any one but the undiluted real English beer drinkers care in this day and age.

David M

Basses Bitter…. back in ’69 I worked in a famous historic pub in Exeter. We sold three cask bitters: Heavitree, Whitbread’s and Bass. I was introduced to the art of tapping a cask. After tapping and spiling the beer was left to “work”. The Heavitree was ready in about 12 hours, The Whitbread’s in about 24 hours and the glorious Bass worked for 48 hours….. long and slow…
The beer my father drank before and during WWII….As for the bottle conditioned India Pale Ale… that would very occasionally appear alongside the White Shield on the shelves and would disappear at a rate of knots once the towel was removed. (The towel was used to cover the bottles to allow them to settle)
I’m sorry but I do not believe that any brewer other than an Englishman stands any chance of recreating these classics, and that only truly at Burton.

Danny O'Brien

Beautifully balanced article. Regarding the swearing;given the subject matter, I find your restraint little short of fucking staggering. That sort of crass bandwagon-hopping drives one to profanity. More power to your pen.


BRING BACK THE GLORY OF BASS ___IN TINS ———————a long search without result is SOOOOOOOOO. Frustrating . GIVE THE BASS DRINKERS of this world a chance to live again !!!


That sentiment rankled with me Dave, and that’s why I’m so angry about this shit. As a former marketer, I know that marketing is capable of communicating what’s special about a product in simple, targeted, motivating terms, to a segment of people who will be grateful for the information, connecting stories that deserve to be heard with people who want to hear them. But this lot give marketing a bad name.

I guess it’s like the old saying, “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”

Marketing does not insult the intelligence of everyone it touches and debase every brand it is employed upon; A-B Inbev insult the intelligence of everyone they touch and debase every brand they work on.

Alexander Wright

Marketing done well, leaves the reader (or viewer etc.) with an accurate view (if slightly rose tinted) of the product being marketed.

If the product is unlike the marketing, this can lead the consumer to not trust the other brands of the seller.

Just like Pete said, really!

My first pint was Draught Bass from a pub in Devon.

Rik Wehmeier

Almost all large companies lie in their marketing. The predominant marketing strategy in the U.S. today is to lie, mislead and trick customers into buying their product.


Marketing, as practiced in the U.S. today, largely consists of deceiving the customer into making a purchase rather than informing of the product’s merits and features. Just compare ads and TV commercials from the 50’s and 60’s with those of today.

The Beer Nut

As well as the Marston’s one, there’s also the Tennent’s-brewed Bass that’s still popular in Northern Ireland. It never went away, you know. It’ll be weird and confusing to have bottles of the new one sitting beside cans of the old one in the supermarket.


Well this marketing type shows how much they think of us and the beer.on my 18 birthday I went for a beer in a pub round the corner called the Surprise in London SW8.They advised me the best beer is Bass, but because they are a Young’s outlet we have Special, which is on that path.That was 1968 and I still take those products when obtainable.Your post is timely and helps me help the younger beer fans see where our trade was honourable once ,and what they have missed out on.Who knows maybe they can get it back one day.Keep it up.Thank you.


I was born in 1950 too.
We will never forget the seventies attempt to demolish flavour with abominations such as Groneys red barrel and Spew 10.
I still brew cracking beers and shed a tear now and then for the demise of true quality.


As a current ABI employee I thoroughly enjoyed your article complete with profanity. Bass in my opinion is the best beer brand in our portfolio, it’s the brand that I grew up with and am gutted that the company has completely defocussed it since purchase – it’s never even had a Brand Manager. Just gets lumped in with everything “non-core”.


Have you seen what has been done to Löwenbräu?

Dropped from being imported and 5.2% to being brewed in Luton (I presume) and being 3.5%!


John Penny

I’m always ranting about the wank-puffins who couldn’t run a bath in an honest manner, let alone a business. I’m now retired after 48 inglorious years in the telecoms industry and it’s all ‘mouth and trousers’ as the polite expression goes. How do they get away with all this BS? I can only think it vested interest (a polite way of saying ‘corruption’, I guess)
Keep up the good work Pete.

Anthony Morgan

Well said, I think that must be one of the best articles you’ve ever written, dissecting a total load of bolox from a bunch of cockwombles who probably think bass is a fish.

Ex ABI cult member

As an ex employee of the evil empire the whole launch is a typical ABI cut and paste event. ABI are getting punchy because they’ve enjoyed some success in mass distribution of Bud Light, but they & their brainwashed employees should check out how their brands like Stella & Becks are performing. It’s only in recent times we’ve started seeing Camden being listed into bang average pubs. The stack it high sell it low mentality reigns supreme. Bass could & should be great but ABI are the wrong ‘brewer’ to deliver it.

Fred West


Thanks for all this, only just read.

I am now just over 8 years retired from Wadworth & Co but with my love of people, pubs & beer undiminished, ideally all of quality in the same place at the same time, of course.

Deb & I bought a new-build apartment in Pembrokeshire some years back (eldest daughter & grandchildren live close by) & our regular lunch stop coming back to Devizes is almost always The Prince of Wales at Kenfig where the draught Bass is invariably excellent: brimful glass “with beaded bubbles winking at the brim”, as the poet has the beaker of the warming south.

Expect you know the place but when we return there a week tomorrow we shall be raising a pint & a half to toast your good health for the pleasure that reading your article has just brought me.

Regret cannot say the same of Whitbread>Interbrew>InBev>ABInbev, not least for their being stripped of Pilsner Urquell in the whole sorry process..!!

Lotsa luv.

xxxxxx (yes, that’s 6..)

Leigh Spooner

Bought a Circa 1900 huge 6ft x 5ft Bass mirror recently, the quality of it is superb and probably cost a great deal to make even in 1900.
I doubt even Ab-Inbev could possibly afford to market their beers with such expense today, but it does show what pride the original Bass had in its beer.

Graham Fraser

I’ve been drinking Cask Bass Ale well kept at Tennents Bar in Glasgow for years – it’s been a treat for my regular Glasgow ale trips – tonight (June 2019) it wasn’t on tap and sounds like it may no longer be available- I’m devastated!! Why can’t ABI just leave well alone – let Marston’s brew it in Burton- I really fear it will wither on the hop if it’s made in a factory or worse become a keg ale – the world is coming to an end!!! Woe is me ?


As a student in the 70s, I drank buckets of draft Bass. The current stuff is ok, but it tastes nothing like it did …far less hippy and bite.

Steve Greeny

Rumour has it that the bottled Imported PA have stopped being brewed at Samlesbury because of quality complaints from export customers in Japan – 🙂

Julian Stanley

I bought some and so enjoyed it I looked for info and came across this blog. The company may be shite but I like the beer. I also owe you thanks for your book on cider as I make my own and found your account on propagation of rootstocks so interesting I’ll be giving it a go as our trees were grown from seed. CHEERS 🙂


Yesterday, I bought 2 bottles of Bass ‘premium’ pale ale from Asda, thinking that they were the original Bass ales. Only when I was home did I notice the name AB-InBev on the label. I used to drink Bass in my teens during the seventies, but this was the Tennents Bass brew.
I live near Samlesbury, and actually work in Samlesbury, and have even tried to get a job at InBev, fortunately I didn’t get the job as the interview process made me suspicious of the firm.
With regard to what they are calling the beer, I’m surprised they didn’t name it Hofner!


I purchased 10 bottles today first November in Asda.
The reasons being as follows:
One pound Sterling per (500) ml.bottle.
Supped three. Not Bass in my book.
Hey!Ho! another shitty day in corporate land.


Bass has been my favourite draught beer since I first realised, in my early twenties, that lager was for teenagers/hot weather/holidays (delete as appropriate). I cannot find it in Dorset anymore, the last pub in Weymouth to serve it, told me around 10 years ago that ‘there is no call for it’ but they still have the metal ‘Bass Served Here’ sign in the bar!
Just bought 2 330ml (?!) bottles printed with the claim that it was the first Pale Ale etc…..it lists among its ingredients – MAIZE!! I am pretty certain Bass never contained maize – it now tastes like fizzy bottled lager and is 5.1%. No more Bass then..

Andrew Klein

An uneducated, older American ale drinker here who happens to have liked Bass Pale Ale for a long time. I liked your article, too, but write only because no one seems to do anything to market this ale in the U.S. I think it should be. Its British history, unmatchable by newcomers, would or should have an immediate cachet here and the product itself has a pretty pure, straightforward, untrammeled taste. These elements should attract more fellow uneducated ale drinkers here than they do now. Everything on the shelves in the U.S. claim to be “India Pale Ale” and are bought on the idea that they are that. But all of those I’ve tasted strike me as wanting for the simple reason that they so obviously are trying very hard to be new, fresh, and interesting. I find myself returning to Bass every time. Perhaps Bass and its distributor should do more to sell this simple brand and taste here than they do. In any event, I very much hope Bass survives as is.

Edward Lloyd-Hughes

Bass has been destroyed. The watery rubbish sold as Draught Bass is a faint imitation of the glorious Daft Bass we swallowed 20 years ago. The bastards did for Pedigree too.


As a student in the 70s, I drank buckets of draft Bass. The current stuff is ok, but it tastes nothing like it did …far less hippy and bite.

Bill Davis

Proper Bass used to be transported down to St Pancras on the train. In was unloaded into ginormous underground cellars and then distributed accross London.
Nowadays that cellar is a shopping centre, nobody under 50 has any appreciation of what makes a “good” product, so they will pay high prices for rubbish, whether that be watching Italy at Twickenham for the same price as watching the All Blacks, or cheap lager for £6 a pint.

james duxbury

i used to drink bottled bass (with a draught board on the label ) in oldham and district circa 1950 (i am 87 )wonderful nectar ,i wish i could obtain it now .nearest i have found is hopleaf pale ale ,brewed by farsons brewery in malta .if you go there try it .

Peter Kirkland

I bought four x 355ml bottles from Tesco today of what is now described on the label as “British Pale Ale and brewed in the UK, but failing to state precisely where. The price was £1.70 per bottle, with a modest 20p per bottle reduction if one bought 4 bottles at a cost of £6.
Maize is indeed listed as an ingredient, appearing between the malt and hops contents, presumably to satisfy American and Japanese “shoppers”.Quality/taste-wise, it gets nowhere close to the leading craft beers such as Brewdog Punk IPA which is readily available at all the major supermarkets at a significantly lower price than AB InBev’s inferior product.


Loved Bass Ale. My favorite Ale when it was brewed in England in early 80s. Brewed in the US it’s terrible. They’ve ruined a great ale

Crutchfield Paul

Thank you for your article. I don’t really care much about the marketing. I just want a beer that taste like the old bass in the 90s And early 2000’s I was of the opinion that the downfall of bass was from the selling of the beer to a another company which source their water in New Jersey rather than the Trent. If you could recommend any beer that taste like the old bass I would be greatly appreciative. My wife has gotten sick of me telling my sad tail to every bartender I come across. Most of which are too young to remember the old bass. The problem with my story is I don’t even know how to describe what it is I like about the old bass.

John Slack

Morrison’s in Paisley 06/4/20. 355ml bottle and 5.1%. It’s as expected, non-descript,insipid if not overly offensive. If I had read the label probably would have left it on the shelf. Maize is there and as soon as you see that you know it is made on the cheap.


As I’m sipping a Bass for the first time in a few years, I notice the label that it’s brewed in Merrimack New Hampshire home of a Budweiser factory. It definitely lacks the character that I remember. Not a bad beer, but not memorable either.


I was brought up on Draught Bass and Pedigree when I was a youngster in the 70’s, both pretty much ruined now. I have it on good authority that Coors or probably ABInv destroyed the yeast strain for Bass so now it can never truly be recovered

Roger Stedina

I have been a Bass drinker since the 1980’s. I am enjoying a Bass in a bottle right now, as I am writing this review. It is every bit as good as it has always been. I love it! Maybe my taste buds have remained the same, but, this Bass is as good as it has always been! My only problem is that it is very hard to find! I don’t care who is brewing it now, it is still as good as always! Cheers to Bass!

David Lynch

I can’t agree. Canned Bass was my favourite supermarket beer and then it disappeared. I found some in Asda just now and it doesn’t taste the same. Then I looked at the label and it’s brewed with maize. Good luck to you if you like it but it’s not what Bass used to be and I’m not buying anymore.

Anthony Waterson

The Bass of my dreams was an IPA sold in half-pint(?) bottles with crown caps. Red triangle had yeast in it and had to be decanted unshaken leaving a half inch (with the yeast) in the bottle.Blue triangle was allegedly pasteurised so no yeast, no trouble, but less taste. The best ever was a bottle of pre -war given me in Rugeley 1947. Nectar. Publicans found red triangle troublesome to keep and to pour when busy. All disappeared circa 1970s.

Corina Simons

think your getting confused with white shield, which was served to a customer in a half pint glass, with the undisturbed sediment served in a separte wine glass

David Davies

I don’t think he is. I remember both Worthington White Shield & Bass Red Triangle as bottle conditioned beers, & non bottled conditioned versions which had green & blue labels, respectively, as I remember.
That was early 60s; I don’t know whether the Bass and Worthington products were the same by then, but I remember a friend telling me that in his local (the Cornish Arms in Hayle), they poured a Red Triangle & a White Shield in a pint glass & named it an Electric Light!

Ian Sutherland

I’ve been running annual beer tours to the UK for over 20 years now. From the outset, with a CAMRA good beer guide in hands, I asked everyone to rate every beer that was encountered during the week long trips. The idea was, by using the beer guide to select a pub, we were likely to experience beer in its best form, which most of the time this appeared to be the case. While the tourists may not have been beer connoisseurs, Draught Bass seemed to rise invariably to the top of the ratings list, having sampled 50 plus differing real ales during the typical tour. With most tourists being from the US, it was interesting to note their initial responses to drinking beer at cellar temperature, considering they’d been brought up on almost ice-cold dispense. Following a “wow!”, they would explain how flavourful the beer was, considering the (general) “low” alcohol content. It is unfortunate that they cannot experience the “real” Bass in the US.

Peter Chamberlain

Shame, Bass was destroyed by UK government in 1989 then they found 4 years later they made a mistake. But too late, impossible to reverse what had been done to ossify CAMRA who didn’t like Bass being was so. It destroys UK pub trade, thousands of pubs closed removing because the best beer ever was lost to them. The pub was the local social club to meet mates who only drank Bass, they didn’t want to try alternatives. Once they had sold all but 200 of their pubs the brewery lost the trade they had been supply for over 200 years. I worked at Bass all my working life moving through many jobs from office boy at 14years old to HQ development manager retiring job before it was destroyed by government.
The country is still saying why are so many pubs closing? The pub companies must have made millions cashing in on the property ground values which Bass had built up over 200 years. Another self destruct as UK does so well. 90 this year shows that Bass was good to me.

Ed Hansen

A sorry tale and undeserved plight for Bass Ale which entered my life in the 1950’s on a UK visit. One of my first tasks when moving to a new location in the US was to search out a local Bass Ale vendor. Now, as of a few weeks ago, the totemic red triangle is nowhere to be found; merchants here in San Diego, California, admit they cannot get, or do not want to stock Bass Ale, opting to offer the products of the myriad local craft brewers. Sadly now, see the whole sordid picture. Thanks for some of the very best business reporting I’ve seen.

Frank L Kalesnik

Bought a twelve pack at the supermarket yesterday for nostalgia’s sake. A bar in town had it on draft when I was in college back in the 1980s. Now I am retired and live near that same bar in Lexington, Virginia. One of the local breweries is Devil’s Backbone, where you can enjoy their seasonal beers as well as good food in their brew pub. Too bad they sold out to InBev, who is moving the brewing of their Vienna Lager to New Jersey. Is InBev’s mission statement “Buy up great beers so we can ruin them?” They are awful.

Tom Caulfield

I have to say I’m really disappointed in general with alleged UK beers. Watneys Red barrel is unavailable but more disappointing is Newcastle Brown and Bass Ale. I drank Newcastle for years then they started to brew it in the USA and tasted very different, it’s not even drinkable. It tastes nothing like the “real” Newcastle brewed in England. Now Bass Ale is the same as Newcastle Brown. Brewed in the USA and tastes nothing Bass Ale from England.
Both are very disappointing does anyone know if there is real beer/ale that has the taste of the original British beer/ales. Thanks for the chance to rant.

Rose Urban

My sister was such a fan of Bass Ale. But the last case or 2 she was lucky enough to find was returned because she thought it had gone bad. After reading up, I’m thinking the recipe has just been changed and it is now not to her liking. But she is still pressing on in search of the Bass Ale she use to know…. Any suggestions for a livable replacement? Google suggests Harp Lager. Any other suggestions? She is in Philadelphia.


Bass is my favorite drink outside of a good bourbon. I haven’t been able to get a bass in any bar or liquor store for months here in the USA. I have a pub down the street that served kegs of Bass but they can’t get it anymore. So I stopped drinking beer. And since I’m a professional investor, I sold all my shares of AB InBev (BUD). I really enjoyed a pint of ice cold bass. I’m done, I’ll drink water and bourbon

Spoon Phillips

I haven’t had the latest Bass. But when it was still available in England in cans it was still very, very good. But the stuff sold in America was like dirty dishwater once they stopped importing it from England. And they had the nerve to cry about sinking sales figures!

When I read AB was making it again in England I had hoped THAT would be exported to the States. But it seems Americans are getting peddled more garage with a Bass label. Sooooo unhappy.

Pre-COVID I could get Marston’s (my favorite bottled beer) when I lucky and was happy to get Taylor’s Landlord at times. Scarecrow and Hobgoblin were around too, and Wells Bombardier sporadically, Speckled Hen and Theakston’s even more rarely.

Now, NYC only seems to get London Pride now and again, and Samuel Smith’s various options. I was not a fan of Smith’s pale ale, but I have come to cherish it since it is the only true English ale here on a regular basis.

Oh, Young’s Chocolate Stout and Well’s Banana beer too, oddly enough, but no more Bombardier and Young’s ales were never here. That is the bottled stuff. Bodingtons’s in the can with the gas bomb in it can be found, but no thanks. Ditto for Newcastle Brown.

The fact Bass is sold here but is actually a dreadfully horrible imposter is downright criminal.

Newcastle Brown


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