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Classic Beer of the Month July 2012: Taylor Landlord

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Taylor Landlord, 4.3%

In 1953, the steward of the Drill Hall in Keighley, Yorkshire, pocketed £500 and enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame.

Taylor LandlordHe’d just won a contest to name a new beer from the local Timothy Taylor brewery but he could never have dreamt of the success that lay ahead for the beer and how famous the name he suggested would become.

The beer that the steward successfully dubbed Landlord is, quite simply, one of the most lauded beers of all time. Its origins lie in the decision – 60 years ago this year – to create a new product that could grab a slice of the growing demand for bottled ales.

The Keighley brewers took the recipe for a beer called BB Superior Bitter Beer that dated from the 1930s, re-worked it for the bottle and initially released it under the title Competition Ale.

The competition involved no more than finding a more fitting, permanent name.

As Landlord, the beer was an instant hit and has been a consistent award winner over the years. However, the cask-conditioned equivalent, launched in 1954, has proved even more successful.

Champion Beer of Britain

It is the only beer to have won CAMRA’s supreme Champion Beer of Britain title on four occasions (nine category wins to its name in all) and, much as a consequence, has been the driving force behind Taylor’s considerable growth in recent times.

If CAMRA’s highest accolade wasn’t a big enough pat on the back, then Timothy Taylor can also point to Landlord’s triumph as the champion cask beer in the Brewing Industry International Awards in 2000.

Significantly, though, all these trade plaudits pale into significance next to the announcement on television that the beer was Madonna’s favourite beer. In confiding her secret to Jonathan Ross in 2003, the pop diva opened the beer up to a new legion of fans.

Landlord is brewed using Golden Promise pale malt, brewing sugar and three strains of whole-leaf hops – Fuggle, Whitbread Golding Variety and Savinjski Golding, the last a rare choice back in the 1950s.

It’s a gloriously satisfying, full-flavoured, light amber-coloured brew, bittersweet to taste, never cloying and packed with gentle caramel, juicy orange fruit and flowery hop notes. It exemplifies why bitter/best bitter is Britain’s great contribution to the world of beer.

This summer, it has been hard to avoid a certain Diamond Jubilee. Taylor’s commemoration of Landlord’s 60 years at the top of the British brewing tree has not been as obvious, but really should not be ignored.

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