National Bass Day 2020

Go in to a pub, any pub. The chances are there will be a Bass mirror on the wall. Many thousands of them across the country pay homage to one of the world’s finest cask ales. Yet, there are now less than 500 pubs in Britain selling Bass on a regular basis. (See Labouring with love through the Bass mirror ). The unintended consequences of government legislation has left Draught Bass languishing in the brand basement of AB InBev. That it has survived at all is a miracle.

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It’s now time to celebrate its survival and look forward. National Bass Day 2020 is on Easter Saturday, 11th April and it coincides with William Bass buying his Burton brewery in 1777. It’ll soon be the 250th anniversary. Let’s start practising.

I’m not looking to see Draught Bass in the 9,000 pubs of the 1980’s but it’s just too good to let it fade away. Even in 2011 it was reported to be in 3,000 pubs on a permanent basis (see Mirror, Mirror on the pub wall, where can I drink Draught Bass?  ). The danger of the argument that goes, ‘I don’t want it in more pubs because the quality will go down’ is a recipe for extinction.

You can make a difference by supporting National Bass Day 2020. If you care about beer and pubs please read on to see how you can help. It’ll be worth your efforts.

Is Draught Bass still that beer, produced in the Burton Union system, in my memory from the days as a young bloke in Burton. Who knows, nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. What is certain is that the Draught Bass, currently brewed under licence by Marston’s in Burton, is one of the most well-crafted traditional beers coming out of any brewery in England.  As Roger Protz has written, “If Timothy Taylor’s Landlord…or Draught Bass are bland beers, I am a banana sandwich.” He’s not a banana sandwich, but he does support National Bass Day 2020. Thanks Roger.

There’s no doubt that Draught Bass needs expert cellaring, it needs time and care. However in the right hands it’s a subtle gem that sells very well and gains a loyal following. As the manager of Simpson’s Tavern in the City of London reports, “training here consists of two rules, look after the customers and never remove Draught Bass”. Even in my own village local, a tentative move to having it as a guest beer resulted in their fastest selling cask ale of the year. 

Landlords such as Hughie Price at the Tynemouth Lodge Hotel, Carl Stout at Burton’s Devonshire Arms and the team at the Star Inn, Bath are fine exponents of the Draught Bass craft. 

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So how can you help?

First of all, have a pint or two of Draught Bass on Easter Saturday. If you’re on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram etc. please let people know the pubs you’ll be in. Don’t wait until Easter Saturday, tell us now where you’ll be and use the hashtags #DraughtBass, #NationalBassDay, #NBD2020. And, of course, encourage your local to get Draught Bass on the bar. Could you be the leading Draught Bass pub ticker on National Bass Day 2020?

If you’re a landlord why not promote the day and let folk know that you’ll have Draught Bass on the bar. I’ll be offering free downloadable posters. Please PM me with your contact details through Twitter @TheWickingMan . A number of pubs have already offered to be the lead in their area. If you’re interested in doing the same please let me know.

If you’re involved in a CAMRA branch feel free to use the material in any of my posts for inclusion in your branch newsletters, and please highlight those pubs in your area who have Draught Bass. You might even want to produce a Draught Bass pub trail for the day? Places like Derby, Leek, Burton and Hinckley offer a very good day out.

If you’re a beer writer, blogger or on Twitter please let the world have your take on Draught Bass. Everything from your favourite Draught Bass pubs in your patch through to the history of Bass is very welcome. Support in the weeks leading to National Bass Day will be particularly useful. However, if the urge to write is already there, don’t let me hold you back.

If you’re a micro-brewery how about paying your own tribute to Draught Bass with a one-off brew? Go on, why not have a go.

Many thanks to the people who’ve offered their help promoting the day. It’s all much appreciated and I’ll be sending out regular updates by email and in blogposts. As ever I’d like to thank my Draught Bass mates, Pub Curmudgeon, Retired Martin, and Britain Beer Mat for their support. I couldn’t have asked for finer companions in a virtual pub.

By the way, if you get this far and think why is this bloke organising National Bass Day? What’s in it for him? Well, somebody has to, so why not me. I don’t have financial connections to any breweries or pubs.

Enjoy your Draught Bass. It’ll be the best Easter Saturday you’ve ever had.

All the best

Ian

 

 

Labouring with love through the Bass mirror

In early 2018 a plan was hatched by a motley but happy crew to create a list of pubs serving Draught Bass on a permanent basis. It’s been described as a labour of love for me, perhaps appropriate as my maternal grandfather was a brewery labourer in Burton. I do sometimes question why I started this madcap enterprise. My best guess is that I just didn’t want to see Draught Bass to die without a fight. I had a stupid idea that the common man could help reverse the decline in distribution of one of the world’s finest ales. You can read my original post here.

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Social media often gets criticised for creating division and worse. However I think it’s worth thinking of the positives. In this case the listing seems to have gained followers and, more importantly, many who have been prepared to share their knowledge. Good people who just want to do their bit. To some extent it merely follows in the fine tradition of the merry band of the Honourable Order of Bass Drinkers who’ve sought to keep the Bass flag flying over many years.

The Bass Directory will only be updated in this post in the future, rather than the original post. Please click on the link at the end of this post for the listing.

To the many who have joyfully shared their knowledge, my thanks for making it possible. To those who’ve developed the idea – the start of a top 100 Bass pubs; the mapping of the pubs; and adding ‘occasional but regular’ Bass pubs, my thanks. And most importantly, to the pubs that serve Bass and to those of you who’ve downloaded the Bass Directory to get a pint or two of Bass, my heartfelt thanks. Please keep sharing.

What could we do next? I would like to promote a National Bass Day in 2020. I have a date in mind to coincide with William Bass’ purchase of his brewhouse in Burton. More later, but in the meantime I would like to hear from any pubs, CAMRA branches, and individuals who would be willing to support the National Bass Day. As ever we’re all doing this for free.

Thank you

Whilst I lay claim to all the errors and omissions (BTW, comments and additions welcome below or by PM to my twitter account), the listing couldn’t have been put together without others’ sterling efforts. The CAMRA volunteers who produce the GBG and WhatPub entries for a start. My fellow Bass obsessives – RetiredMartin, PubCurmudgeon and Britainbeermat who were willing to sit next to the strange bloke on the Bass social media bus. And everyone else amongst the twitterati who contributed their favourite Draught Bass haunts. And of course, thanks to Mrs TWM who accepts that a lunchtime stop on a long journey might surprisingly be selling Bass.

The listing belongs to us all but I acknowledge the copyright of CAMRA to GBG and WhatPub entries. (I’m happy to relinquish the copyright of the Directory to CAMRA if they’re interested.) Whilst I’m about it I acknowledge the trade mark, the world’s most famous trade mark – the Red Triangle of Bass held by AB InBev.

Commercial use of this post and the Bass Directory is not permitted.

Bass January 2022