May 29, 2022
Some people call it boring brown beer, but others think of it as liquid from heaven. In a love letter to what’s arguably the most British of beer styles, writer Anthony Gladman covers the history, meaning, and future of Best Bitter in his piece titled “Don’t Call It a Comeback — Taking Stock of Best Bitter’s Moment in the Spotlight,” which was published on April 6, 2022.
In today’s conversation, Anthony and I talk about the early, uncertain days of the COVID-19 pandemic, which spurred a collective return to familiar flavors, with beer being no exception. He found that comfort in a can of Best Bitter, brewed collaboratively between Boxcar Brewery and Mills Brewing. Unbeknownst to him at the time, that beer ultimately led him down this path of exploration into what the Best Bitter actually is, where it comes from, and how it shapes the identities of brewers over generations, even in the face of inevitable evolution. The style is currently at a crossroads, one where allegiance to history and tradition is butting up against changing demographics and contemporary craft beer culture. But despite those changes, it’s still a beer style that means something to many, if not most, British drinkers.
Today, you’ll hear about that shared experience, what makes a Best Bitter a Best Bitter, what Anthony loves about the easy-drinking style, and his musing on where tradition may be headed. Don’t let the name fool you—there’s a loving sweetness in the soul of every cask pour of Bitter.