One of the most underrated British beers there is, Mackeson.
I bet readers of a certain age will well remember the very old TV advertisement extolling the virtues of a very special beer. It went something like this “Mackeson, looks good tastes good, and by golly it does you good.” For those younger than Bruce Forsyth’s hair piece this advert aimed to promote a dark, rich , old southern English style of sweet stout once known as milk stout, so-called because it contained lactose, a sugar derived from milk, which added character and calories to the finished beer. Marketed by Whitbread, it was a major brand for many years, even being offered as a draught product back in the sixties.
Since the only Stout beer generally available in pubs these days is Guinness, bottled or draught, it is unlikely that most dark beer fans will have tasted this wonderful brew. At just 3% ABV it is an incredible beer and part of our brewing heritage. Not as bitter as Guinness, some people might say even sweet, it has a complex set of flavours, ranging from dark chocolate, through coffee and perhaps vanilla. It is a very creamy beer that looks great in the glass with it’s cappichino type head and distinct aroma.
As I mentioned earlier, Mackeson was once sold in draught form with some success. Given the enormous innovations the beer dispense industry has made I wonder how Mackeson would fair in the present extra cold, nitrogen filled brewing world. Cask ales continue to be the only growth area in the on trade indicating drinkers may be willing to try new darker brews. Another different type of keg Stout may give Guinness something to compete with and give us drinkers a better choice. In recent years Beamish Stout and Kilkennywere both pitched against Guinness but in my opinion where not sufficiently different to impact on the brand leader. I think Beamish is still out there if you can find it.
Asda and Tesco sell small cans of Makeson. It is a unique beer that you should try if only once. I think you may get a really nice surprise. And remember this “Mackeson, looks good tastes good, and by golly it does you good.”