The Bass red triangle: things AB-InBev won’t tell you

Bass pale ale labelThere are stupid marketeers, and there’s AB-InBev. The Belgo-Brazilians have decided to rename one of the oldest beer brands in Britain, Bass pale ale, a literally iconic IPA, as “Bass Trademark Number One”. It’s a move so clueless, so lacking in understanding of how beer drinkers relate to the beers they drink, I have no doubt it will be held up to MBA students in five years’ time as a classic example of How To Royally Screw Up Your Brand.

The move is predicated upon the red triangle that is found on every bottle of Bass pale ale, and on every pumpclip of the draught version, being the first registered trademark in Britain. The generally accepted story is that after the passing of the Trade Mark Registration Act of 1875, when applications to apply for trademark registration opened on January 1, 1876, a Bass employee was sent to wait overnight outside the registrar’s office the day before in order to be the first in line to file to register a trademark the next morning, and that is why the company has trade mark number one. There is no evidence for this story: but it is certainly true that a label with the triangle on it, and the words “Bass & Co’s Pale Ale” is indeed the UK’s Trade Mark 1, having been the first to be registered on New Year’s Day 1876.

So why now rename a beer that has been around since the 1820s, when Bass first started brewing a bitter pale ale for the Far East market, after an event that happened when that beer was already 50 or more years old? Because AB-InBev is flailing around for a way to rescue the beer, once the most famous in the world, from the miserable position it has been in since, to be honest, long before what was then Interbrew acquired the Bass brands in 2000. Some idiot marketing focus group got together and tried to think of a unique selling point for the beer: and the only one they could come up with was that it bore the UK’s first registered trade mark.

As Pete Brown has already remarked, this is pretty much a result of the AB-InBev mindset, which knows far more about trademarks than it does about beer. Bass pale ale is a beer with a fantastic heritage: it was, for more than a century, a hugely highly regarded brew, globally as well as in the UK (my grandfather told me that before the First World War, he and his pals would scour North London looking for pubs that sold draught Bass), so much so that it suffered more than anyone else from lesser brews being passed off as the red triangle beer. That was one reason why Bass was so keen to register its own trademark as speedily as possible.

Before we continue, here’s a panegyric on Bass from a book published in 1884 called Fortunes Made In Business which will show you how much Bass was an icon:

It is no extravagant assertion to say that throughout the world there is no name more familiar than that of Bass. A household word amongst Englishmen, it is one of the first words in the vocabulary of foreigners whose knowledge of the English language is of the most rudimentary description. And while the cognomen of the great Burton brewer is of cosmopolitan celebrity, there is no geometrical figure so well known as the vermilion triangle which is the trademark on his bottles. It is as familiar to the eye as Her Majesty’s visage on the postage stamps. It would, indeed, be a difficult task to say in what part of the earth that vivid triangle does not gladden the heart of man. Thackeray contended with great humour that far as the meteor flag of England may have carried the glory of this country, the fame of her bitter beer has gone farther still. The word “Bass” is known in places where such names to conjure with as Beaconsfield, Gladstone, Bright, Tennyson and Dickens would be unintelligible sounds. To what corner of the habitable world has not Bass penetrated? He has circumnavigated the world more completely than Captain Cook. The sign of the vermilion triangle is sure evidence of civilisation. That trade mark has travelled from “China to Peru”, from “Greenland’s icy mountains to India’s coral strand”. There it is in Paris or St Petersburg, Madrid or Moscow, Berlin or Bombay, Brussels or Baalbec, New York or Yokohama, San Francisco or San Stefano, Teheran or Trichinopoly. You meet the refreshing label up among Alpine glaciers. and down in the cafes of the Bosphorus; among the gondolas of the Grand Canal at Venice, the dahabeahs at the first cataract on the Nile, and the junks of China. It has reached the “Great Lone Land”. It has refreshed the mighty hunter camping out in Wyoming, Montana or Dakotah. It sparkles before the camp fire of the Anglo-Saxon adventurer out in the wilds of the Far West, and its happy aroma is grateful to the settler in the Australian bush. When the North Pole is discovered, Bass will be found there, cool and delicious.

Bass actually started using the red triangle for its pale ale “many years before 1855”, according to the evidence given in a court case in New Jersey in 1899, when a brewery from Newark called Christian Feigenspan was accused of imitating the Bass trademark. From 1855, casks of draught Bass pale ale carried either a red triangle, a white one or a blue one, depending on whether it was made in the Old Brewery, the Middle Brewery or the New Brewery at Burton. All bottles of Bass pale ale, however, carried only the red triangle, on a label originally designed by George Curzon, a clerk at the company’s London agency, in February 1855.

Curzon’s label was soon imitated: at a parliamentary hearing in 1862 for a trade marks bill that was never passed, the company’s London manager, Thomas Cooper Coxon, told MPs that he had in his collection forged Bass labels from Bremen, from Paris, from Dublin, from Glasgow and from Liverpool, while he had heard of fake Bass labels being sold in Melbourne. At the same time, Coxon said, he had heard that retailers refused to take back empty Bass bottles if the labels had been defaced, the implication being that they were being refilled with inferior beer, recorked and sold to the unsuspecting as genuine Bass.

Even before the Trade Mark Registration Act, trademarks had some protection in law. At Brighton Quarter Sessions in October 1866, John Yeomans, described as a brewer’s agent, was charged with applying or causing to be applied “the trademark of ‘Bass and Company’ to certain bottles containing beer, such beer not being the manufacture of the said company, with intent to defraud Michael Thomas Bass and others … the jury found the defendant guilty, and the Recorder sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment, remarking at the same time that he had made himself liable to imprisonment for two years.”

Bass advert from 1930sBass continued to be the beer of connoisseurs, and the brewery continued to look after it. The Burton Unions were abandoned in the early 1980s, but even 20 years ago, Michael Jackson could write: “The brewery likes the malt for Draught Bass to be made from a single variety of barley, grown in an identifiable stretch of countryside.” After Interbrew won the Bass brands but lost the Bass brewery in Burton to Coors, however, the draught version ended up being brewed at Marston’s brewery in Burton, the bottled edition at the (relatively modern) Salmesbury brewery in Lancashire.

And now the marketeers are about to stuff this formerly famous beer completely by giving it an atrociously nonsensical name, instead of promoting it on its true heritage as THE example of a British India Pale Ale. “Why are you drinking that beer?” “Well, it was the first registered trademark in the UK, you know.” “Tremendous – I must have a pint of it myself straight away.” I’m not sure which is more contemptible: the stupidity of AB-InBev’s marketing department, or the AB-InBev marketing department’s own belief in the stupidity of the people it wants to drink its beers.

96 thoughts on “The Bass red triangle: things AB-InBev won’t tell you

  1. Hey now, credit where credit is due. That AB at the front of things clearly marks the behemoth as an Amero-Belgo-Brazilian beer. You can’t forget our role in all this.

    1. No, they have destroyed a great American brand, Budweiser. In fact, former AB employees have sued AB-INBEV alleging that they are watering down all of the Anheuser-Busch brands.

      1. Bah, Budweiser has been doing that long before the takeover. It’s called high gravity brewing… You brew a high(er) alcohol beer and dilute it to the abv you want. It’s common industry practice in pretty much all the big breweries and many smaller craft breweries do it too. Allows you to utilize smaller fermentors to make more beer by diluting it to spec on the way to the bright tank.

      2. All mass produced beer gets watered down due to government excise laws. They were complaining that it was getting watered down excessively. In the UK a beer can be up to 0.5 per cent below that indicated on the label. That said ABI are a marketing ‘kings new clothes’ led company with little regard for beer as a product. They may as well produce any FMCG for all their empathy for the product.

  2. I understand your concern but I think it would be fine if the ad said something like “THE example of British Inda Pale Ale and the very first trademark issued”

  3. AB-Inbev have really wasted the potential of the Bass brand. I know it’s easy to paint all the big conglomerates as the same, but I’m pretty sure Molson Coors would have done a better job with it, as they have done with Worthington’s.

  4. At least AB is allowed Bass to keep some of it’s dignity by keeping some of it brewed in Burton, rather than say in Baldwinsville… New… York.

    Never mind.

  5. Soooo, does Bass taste OK in the UK? If not, when’s the last time it did…?

    The last time I tried it here in Japan a few years ago, it was essentially … tasteless (nice bottle though). My vague memory from college in the ’80s was of Bass being “that tasteless and cheap british beer” (and this is in comparison with mass-market American beers!). I’m rather a fan of rather mild british-style beer, even in a bottle, and even imported and far from the source; many seem to survive the trip in acceptable if not top form (I’ve had very nice bottled British imports from Marstons, Fullers, Shepherd Neame, St Peters, etc). But not Bass. I am curious whether it tastes good anywhere though, or if images of past glory are all that’s left…

    1. I tried a bottle last week and found it extremely disappointing. One dimensional was how I’d sum it up, and nothing like the Darught Bass I remember from the late 1970’s/ealry1980’s when it was brewed using the Burton Unions system, and definitely was a beer full of character that was well worth seeking out.

      It definitely wasn’t one-dimensional back then, but instead was a complex, multi-faceted beer, but in a subtle sort of way. Very sad how this once iconic, British beer has ended up.

  6. Martyn,

    I love your article and its history of Bass red triangle. I have very happy memories having been a R&D brewer with them. Not only ment the name Bass beer quality , the red triangle was the symbol of it too. I was so lucky working for such a wonderful company and I will always have such happy memories working for that company and the people who were theere at the time. Having said that I feel that Coors have done a great job reproducing Worhtington !

    So watch it Snogglethorpe what you are writing about the quality of Bass beer – “Youngster” !!

    1. Gerard ~

      I mean no disprect to Bass, and I’m sure what you had was fine stuff. I can’t imagine they got their venerable reputation by making bad beer.

      However I’m not lying when I describe how the Bass PA I’ve had tastes. It is not fine stuff (although far from the worse beer out there of course; the depths are limitless…).

      The only reason I post is that I’m genuinely curious about exactly where/how this discrepancy comes from—e.g. declining quality overall / changing recipes / inaccurate contract brewing / poor handling by exporters/importers / etc. I’ve only had Bass bottled, in other countries, and I imagine this has much to do with it.

      1. Dear Snogglethorpe,

        It is hard to imagine there could be a bad Bass but times have changed and I have not realised but I should have that AB could make a bad Bass.

        I have lived for 11 years in the U.S.A. so I should realised. It is hard to see the take over of such a wonderful company where I had such great time and learned a lot about brewing and worked with terrific people.

        One would have thought that Inbev would be able to make a good Bass ?

        Anyway thank you for your reply which made me realise that times have changed and things are no longer as they used to be. Bass was the largest brewing company in the U.K. and not that long ago. Now I drink either Harvey’s (our local beer) Best Bitter , which I love and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale which is great!



    1. Pyeyed or too young ?

      What about all the Bass pubs in the U.K. ?? Did you not think they were selling their own beer but thanks to one politician who found that the U.K. breweries had too much power etc. etc. Bass and others had to reduce the amount of pubs they owned to three thousand only. Hence pub companies were formed seperate from the brewing companies and that was the birth of the death to the British brewing industry ! Then one saw that the Pubs (with food sales) were as a company doing much better then a company producing beer; so breweries were being shut right, left and centre, which then were bought by foreign companies with the result that Bass (the largest brewing company at that time in the U.K. ) were bought by Coors and another large brewing company, Scottish & Newcastle were bought by Heineken. This very intelligent politician thought in his wisdom that reducing the amount of pubs would mean more compition and thus better and cheaper beers !

      We have to be grateful to our politicians for what they are responsible for with the death of the British brewing industry ?


      1. Have YOU seen draught Bass on sale in the past 20 years? I have – when I lived in the US. I have however, never seen it once in the UK. I had never even seen it in bottles until this rebranding exercise.

        What percentage of Bass is exported (or never comes into the UK in the first place)? A significant percentage I would guess.

        1. The reason I was here is that it’s featured at a local pub’s beer festival in Northampton I saw it also in Kettering a couple of years ago to.

        2. I missed thisI missed this bit
          Certainly , it’s been a very popular feature in a pub a couple of miles from where I live for as many years as I can remember. It is served by gravity even though the other beers are all via handpump.These days it does have a cooling jacket, a few years ago it took pot luck on the temperature.

    2. Martyn,

      Some of your (too young ?) readers do not seem to know much about brewing in Britain and the brewries who have come and gone ??

      Bass only for export ?? What a silly comment ?? Especially since I worked for that great company, Bass Charrington !! Then who would brew a beer ONLY for export ??



      1. “Too young” is probably technically accurate, but you have to realise that nobody much younger than about 45 will have been old enough to drink, the last time Bass was getting any kind of marketing support.

  7. Martyn, I wonder if your dismay is more about the seeming (or actual) ignorance and disrespect of this heartless conglomerate toward a classic brand rather than that AB-inbev is going to mess up the future of the beer by this silly (when is marketing not silly?) rebranding. My (anecdotal) take is that the recent best years of Bass are behind it as it gets swallowed up by mass marketing of mass-produced beers on one side and the boom in new smaller brands on the other. Let’s face it, Bass isn’t going to be the beer of choice of craft beer drinkers. And it’s about to be forgotten by the lager boys too.
    I could be (and very likely am) wrong, but times change for better or worse. And the Bass brand is one that’s been straggling.

  8. Having worked with Interbrew (Inbev’s previous incarnation), and then Inbev after they “marged” with South America’s Ambev, the quality shift was noticeable. Interbrew brought good tasting heritage beers into the US, and the quality was good. When they took over Boddingtons, the quality on that beer increased drastically. However, when the Ambev merger happened, and they became Inbev with Ambev’s leadership, the quality has been in a steady decline.

    I used to really enjoy Lefe and Hoegaarden, but now they are no where near their former quality. Bass used to be an enjoyable English pale. Now it’s brewed in the US and shipped in AB kegs. Frankly, the Ambev merger may have been one of the worst things for the beer industry. They’re interested in nothing but skinning the most profit out of their assets.

    SAB Miller/Coors, on the other hand, seems to be a much more responsible steward of their heritage brands. Pilsner Urquel’s quality has continued to increase since they were acquired. Now PU is cold and express shipped to the US. It’s amazing how fresh and wonderful it tastes. They’ve also put a huge effort into promoting their new English brands, Worthington and specifically tout the classic heritage of this brand.

    Nice write up on the continued destruction AB Inbev is having on their own brands.

  9. I’m old enough to remember when Bass was the Big Six beer it was OK to like, but that’s a while ago now. As beer, I wouldn’t expect today’s Bass to have any more connection with the Bass of 30 years ago than today’s Boddington’s has with its historical namesake. It certainly isn’t being sold as a beer for people who remember what the beer of that name used to taste like, any more than Boddington’s is; if you buy Bass or Boddington’s in 2013, you’re buying on image and brand far more than on flavour. (Which is why J W Lees aren’t marketing Manchester Pale as a beer for people who remember what Boddington’s used to taste like, even though that’s very much what it’s designed to be.)

    So I find it hard to get very worked up about the re-branding of Bass bottled pale – particularly given that it’s still quite a good-looking bottle, with the red triangle front and centre. I wasn’t going to buy it anyway.

  10. “the draught version ended up being brewed at Marston’s brewery in Burton, the bottled edition at the (relatively modern) Salmesbury brewery”

    Salmesbury brews a keg version too, though, right? And there’s the other kegged and canned version currently brewed at Wellpark, having transferred from Belfast in 2005.

  11. There are two pubs in Penzance selling cask Bass in good nick. Whether it tastes as it did thirty years ago, I can’t say. It isn’t a jaw-droppingly exciting beer, either. It does, however, have something interesting going on as a result, I would guess, of yeast and minerals. It’s certainly noticeably drier-tasting than anything from the Cornish breweries.

    I guess I’m saying I like it. I certainly get a little thrill from seeing the brand on a pumpclip.

  12. Bass in USA is brewed in USA. New York, to be exact. Check out a bottle label, it clearly states on the front label “Product of USA.” Before 2011, it was brewed in Canada.

    1. Canada? That’s interesting. Some Bass draft is sold I believe in Toronto. Would that be brewed here still?


      1. I can answer my own question: a quick check of the The Beer Store’s website (Ontario’s main authorized beer distribution outlet) shows that Bass is brewed by “Labatt” in “Canada” and available in “kegs” only. I’ve seen it in British and Irish-style pubs here and there and the market must be quite small, but there you have it. Nonetheless it tastes to me like Bass always has: oaky, apply, yeasty, light on hops, so again no matter where made it seems to share these traits (taste notes on rate beer and beer advocate seem to bear this out as well). It’s not really a taste that connects IMO to that of most craft beer and I guess it is a sui generis one and maybe – but again not sure – always was.


  13. What is the mark after Bass in the script under the triangle. Guessing it’s “& co” but it looks more like Tfu, same script as is on the trade mark #2 label

  14. Just some comments on current Bass as we know it here. The draft in Toronto as far as I know is still the English export. The draft and bottled in the States is brewed I understand in New York State. I find them all similar and essentially the same as the keg draft export and bottled import we used to get. Apple/banana, a little oaky, lightly hopped, a little sulphury perhaps. Kind of semi-Belgian in character, like a lighter version of some Belgian ales. The cut tent bottle-conditioned one seems a thing apart, it’s exported to the States too and I just had some, it had rather an odd soapy-talc taste I thought, but not sure if it changed in the transport. Finally, Bass IPA is a new alternate form sold in the U.S., its attempt at an American-style IPA but not great IMO.

    I’ve had draught Bass but so rarely I am not sure if it is similar to any type mentioned above.

    Withal, I’ve never found the keg and bottled Bass much to write home about in the last 40 years. Maybe it is a survival of a distant era but if so, it was great then IMO.

  15. Sorry, I meant, if tasted in the mid-1800’s as it does now in keg and bottled form, I’d not much have liked it then either but I think in all likelihood it was a different beer then.

    Also, by current bottle conditioned one, I meant White Shield and I realize now it has a different corporate lineage, so perhaps that explains the talc-soapy taste.


    1. I well remember drinking Bass in the 1960s at a time when the usual drinking beers were the local session mild and bitter. We always described Bass as “soapy” for the want of a better word; not at all as unpleasant as the word implies but it had a very soft mouthfeel.I believe it was dry hopped in those days.

  16. Hello all,
    I just found an old photograph in my grandmother’s collections and it shows some of our family (guessing around 1900 in a pub in Blackpool) with the bass beer in bottle beside them. Way cool to learn more about the background. thank you.

  17. Actually, a few years back I pretty much drank my way through a case of Bass that my dad had bought us for Christmas Day and didn’t mind it at all; easy to drink and moreish, in a way. After reading this post I picked up a four-pack and was incredibly disappointed – insipid, sweet, and with an unpleasant aftertaste. Definately a shadow of it’s former self – marketing errors notwithstanding.

  18. Ref. the trademark.
    In the 19th century Bass of Burton had significant problems with other (smaller) brewers and/or their agents who peddled their products masquerading as Bass ales, often imitating the red triangle.
    Their policy was to warn these competitors and then take legal action if the problem persisted.
    One brewery that suffered from this was the Bass Crest Brewery of Alloa in Scotland, a famous brewing town. The original business founded in 1774 had been named Meiklejohns but when the family connection ended in the mid 19th century the new owner, Charles Maitland, renamed it after the Bass Rock (circa 1850) in the Firth of Forth as it had historical connections to the Maitland family who were keepers of the island for the Crown and had been honoured by Charles II for defending it during the civil war in the mid 17th century.
    Despite Maitland registering his trademarks soon after Bass in 1876 there was an ongoing litigation, and (to cut a long story short) this led to the eventual demise of the Alloa brewery due to settling legal decisions and Maitland’s death.
    Bass purchased the concern in 1918 simply to rid itself of the trademark conflict.
    A very good condition Meiklejohns Bass Crest label recently sold on Ebay for around £225 if I noted it correctly !!!

  19. A bit late to comment, but I feel strongly about this latest idiocy. I haven’t seen Bass on tap for ages. Up until about ten years ago you could find it in a few pubs in London (the real stuff, not the vile carbonated effluent they have in Ireland). Soft, with a slightly nutty finish. Easy drinking. People often said it’d been ruined but Jackson still rated it and a big thing in it’s favour was that it was the house beer in the Sloany Pony. When it moved to Marston’s they dropped it like a stone (to be replaced by Harveys) and the word was that it had finally been ruined beyond recognition. I literally never saw it on tap again and can’t comment as I haven’t tasted the draught product that was subsequently put out (and not for lack of trying).

    The thing is that Bass ought to be the easiest thing in the world to sell. If they made a decent beer and gave it some backing (rather than the utterly ill conceived FUBAR described in this article) it really ought to be to English beer what Guinness is to Ireland. It already has an iconic brand. All it needs is a product to match it and someone to actually try and put it out there.

    1. Hi I drink Bass Red triangle on tap in Wrexham North Wales. I presume it’s keg but tastes fine. Don’t know what gravity can someone tell me?

  20. Just picked up a sixer ‘a Bass. Haven’t had one in ages, and frankly, the misses and I thought it tasted like Budweiser. I’m relieved to find out that I’m not the only one who seems to think it tastes different than it did a few years ago.

  21. General Really.I can not remember my father drinking Bass in the 60’s or 70’s,he drunk “watney’s red barrel” or “Whitbread tankard” and he was happy drinking it two or thee times a week, but the do gooders CAMRA closed down the big six! its saying were going to close down McDonalds because your eating crap food? I’ve been home-brewing for many years and sifted through weeks and weeks of literature and ale styles are running into each other eg IPA could be anything, as most people know it was a strong ale and heavily hopped, another is it Barley Wine or Strong Ale? maybe a Mild made from a pale malt but a good dose or caramel colorant, the list goes on Porter’s or Stout. Getting back to this thread, Bass number their ale’s 1 to 7 and 1 being a barley wine, thus the label being a red diamond, blue triangle being filter, brown diamond label being a stout, i did read some where there is a gold label? This is history, Ind Coope took over Bass in the 50’s and Bass ale was never the same according to so many drinkers, but Ind Coope’s -Double Diamond was a Bass recipe..85% pale malt(halcyon) 5% crystal malt and 10% maltose syrup, but it was pasteurised, filtered and kegged.

    1. As a Burtonian both of who’s grandfathers worked for Bass, I can assure you all that Ind Coope did NOT take over Bass ever. They could not have afforded to. Ind Coope formed a merger with Ansells (Birmingham ) and Tetley Walker (Leeds) to become Allied Breweries. Bass acquired Mitchells and Butler (Birmingham) followed by Charringtons (London), plus many smaller breweries around the UK, not to mention Intercontinental Hotels. At one point Bass were a HUGE organisation. What happened???

      1. “At one point Bass were a HUGE organisation. What happened???”

        It still IS a huge organisation, if you regard Intercontinental Hotels Group, the largest hotel company in the world, as its successor, which effectively it is. The breweries were sold, to Coors and C&C, the pubs division became Mitchells & Butler (a revived old brewery name, of course) and the hotels division steamed on as IHG.

        1. I worked for Bass throughout the period running up to and after the (multiple) sales in the 1990s and 2000s. I joined the brewing arm (Bass Brewers) just as it restructured separating from the pub owning arm (Bass Taverns). Within the group were Holiday Inn Hotels, Bass Leisure (games machines), Britvic Soft Drinks (part owned with other companies including Whitbread), Hollywood Bowl (ten pin bowling) and for a short time, Delta Biotechnology (a spin off company that arose through the microbiology of yeast). It’s fair to say that Bass plc was totally committed to brewing until 1997 / 1998 when MMC intervened to prevent the joint venture between Bass Brewers and Carlsberg Tetley (the rump of Allied / Ind Coope). Despite this deal falling below the MMC stipulations on market share and geographic dominance (Bass was already effectively in a monopoly situation in Scotland with Tennent’s), the MMC prevented the deal. The Bass plc board, along with, I understand, the Bass Brewers board of the time thereafter agreed that brewing would be sold: it was much lower profit than hotels or pubs and Bass plc couldn’t see a strategy whereby it would ‘win’ in a globally consolidating beer industry. So it put the brewery up for sale – the rest, Interbrew acquisition, MMC overrule, splitting the business between Coors and Interbrew is, as they say (recent history). The effective death knell for Bass as a brand of beer in all of this was it staying with Interbrew – they lost the ability to brew it in Burton – any contract deal would automatically be less profitable for them – and of course, they continued their acquisitive quest, picking up other brands with greater international potential in their view (Becks, Budweiser, Staropramen etc). So Bass today receives no focus, no care, no attention. A huge shame. Hope this fills in a few gaps!

      2. I do not think blaming CAMRA is the correct reason for the closure of some of the large U.K. brewers! It all came about because one midland M.P. who decided in – his wisdom of the British brewing industry – that the large brewers owned too many pubs – hence he suggested that brewers with tide houses should not own more then 3000 (I am not sure if that was the correct figure?) pubs. Then brewers were clever and divided into Pub companies and Brewing companies and the accountants quickly found out that brewing beer was not very profitable but that the Pub companies were making the money! Hence the large brewers started with their brewing branch to brew for other brands and hence some of the large breweries were surplus. There are of course other additional reason such as the brewing of lagers increased and we all know that they are more expensive to produce then ales and most of those lagers were brewed under licence.

        CAMRA did a lot of good to the entire British brewing industry – even for the Big ones such as Bass, who I worked for.

        Gerard Lemmens

  22. Dear Richard – First of all in the 60’s and 70’s Bass Charringtom were the largest and most succesful brewing company in the U.K., their Red Triangle logo was one of the best in the brewing industry then in Europe. They were also the leaders in brewing research in those days, I know as I was one of four R & D brewers with them.
    What did close the big six down is one Politician who put a stop to the tied trade of brewers so they were not allowed to own more then 2000 pubs. They then discovered it was far and far more provitable to run a pub company then a brewing company! That is what they ended up doing, hence several brweries did not need to brew beer any longer. That and on top the lager louds – that is what stopped the big six.
    Stop bashing CAMARA as they did a hell of a lot of good for the Ale industry !!! Actually they are stil continuing their good work !



  23. Excellent article and comments. Just trying Trademark No 1, and it not that bad, just non-descript, could be anything. it probably is.

  24. I have just returned from a spiritual journey to Burton. My wife and I visited both the Marston’s brewery and the National Brewing Centre. We saw the Burton Union system in operation and I was privileged to taste Worthington White Shield on draught as well as be educated and entertained on both tours. Marston’s was £7.50 tour which included 1 1/2 pint tasters NBC £8 ish with 1 pt tasters (but you could have quarter pint tasters!)
    and just to add to the mix I did “score” a pint of modern Draught Bass it was a malty brew not unike Pedigree (understandably as brewed in the same building now) quite unlike the light almost summer ale I used to to drink in the Star and Garter (Whitechapel E1) which was probably brewed in the Charrington Brick Lane Brewery in those days.

  25. Beer is a living thing. It tastes how it tastes depending on the ingredients and the expertise of the brewer That’s it!

  26. I don’t think many punters will be confused by the new label – the Bass name and familiar red triangle are prominent. Our local B&M store is selling the 500ml bottle @ 99p – can’t argue with that.
    An average tasting beer in my opinion – there are many better in the same category on the market.

  27. Bass was one of the great beers. The rights to the red triangle are just that, rights. They can out it on anything, and they have.There is no connection with the old beer; what a shame, we used to travel miles to sup it. Now it’s 99p for 500ml, and it’s hardly worth that. It takes a few minutes to destroy a brand, and it never comes back.

    Incidentally,they used to brew a keg version in Ireland back in the 60s/70’s, it was truly awful, but some people there referred to all such beers as “Bass” – it was used as a generic term.

  28. Studying genealogy I just learned my Great (many times) grandfather’s started and ran Bass. Would love to learn all that I can about the family and beer. Fascinating.

      1. My great grandmother was Mary. My great great grandfather was Michael Thomas Bass who married Elizabeth Arden, and his father was Michael Thomas Bass who was the son of William Bass the founder of Bass.

    1. Martyn has already beaten me to it – What was yout great great great grandfathers name who strated Bass – it must have been a mr. Bass ?
      Martyn – do you know of a history written about the Bass Charrington company ? like D. Nelson I would like to look up what the Bass company around 1930 was called as during that time my wife’s great uncle – David Burrell – was the company secretary then.


    2. Many years ago I bought a copy of ‘The History of Brewing’ a limited edition publication from the Bass Museum. Might be worth seeing if they have a reference copy you might access. Tells about the founding of the business.

  29. The Bass they brew here in the USA somewhere in New York tastes nothing like it did 10yrs ago. I remember drinking Bass back in the early 80’s and it was really good. I now pass on this overpriced watered back so called “Ale”. Store don’t even put on the shelves, because it’s a non-seller. Inbev sucks.

  30. if is not much of a trouble, can you please inform me if the label of the Bass TM you pictured is the first design (made by George Curzon). much appreciated

      1. Thanks for letting me know. I’ve used some information from this article in one of my infographics (not for commercial purposes). It’s ok to mentions your blog (link) as a source?

  31. Bass is and should always be left to stand on it’s own for its great taste its silky smoothness and a head ( if it’s pulled right) that lasts to the last drop.

      1. I have come across a metal stamp abit heavy with the bass logo and writing on with the triangle. Sorry with you taking about bass thort you mite no somethings about the bass beer. Sorry my mistake

  32. May be idiotic but it’s not the first time it’s been done by Bass. Look on Wikipedia site for Bass to see an ancient advertisement for Bass No1 Barley Wine, or take the following sentence from James Joyce’s Ulysses: ‘Powerful man he was for storing away number one Bass’

  33. I’m from Burton On Trent and I’ve been reading all the comments about this blog. Yes it’s true that Marstons Brew Bass here in Burton now but the one thing nobody has mentioned is the Burton Snatch as it’s called. It comes from the sulphurs smell when you take a sip of Bass. It’s all to do with the well water we have here in Burton. Makes me wonder if this may play a big part in that Bass doesn’t taste how it used to taste years ago. There are still quite a few great pubs in Burton that still have Bass on. One of the best is the Roebuck and it still laces the glass to the bottom. Cheers.

  34. There should be no doubt at all on the availability of Bass. I live about 20 miles away from Burton and it’s sold in my local (in Sawley, Derbyshire), plus 4 other pubs I drink in around Derby. It’s sold in several villages all within a few miles of me and some of them offer it straight from the barrel. I never struggle to find it and it’s always seen as a safe choice for the pumps.

    I imagine it’s much rarer to see away from here, but I wouldn’t want to drink it any further away as it tastes bl**dy rank when it’s traveled a bit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.