To my great delight (although also shame) I was introduced for the first time earlier this week to the Bree Louise, an amazing pub (local Camra's best last year) with a range of 16 real ales on pump or gravity cask, plus lots of ciders (*ack*). (The website sucks, so don't judge it on that.) They haven't gone to great lengths to make the pub itself beautiful either--mismatched tables and rickety chairs are over-crowded into the space, smoke from the smokers on the pavement and in the doorways carries into the bar, and there's almost nothing vegetarian on the food menu, but the range of beer and the friendly and knowledgeable staff more or less make up for all that.
When I arrived at the bar I couldn't see what was on gravity, so I asked the barmaid for "something dark but not too dark", and received a perfectly drinkable pint--but I neglected to ask what it was, so there's not much point in reviewing it.
I then ordered a pint of the Dark Star Festival, which is a clear dark ale with a scent of fruity sap; it's a little tart, but has a good strong bitter flavour and a very satisfying swallow. This could easily become our regular evening beer. (But not tonight.)
My next venture was a tall glass of the Two Bridges Ink Pen Mild, an almost completely pitch black dark ale, with a faintly smoky, sticky aroma. There's not much sweetness on the tongue, but some liquorice and black sugar flavours, and it's very bitter and cloying on the swallow, like stewed tea. Much more coarse than most milds, but not as robust as a good stout, this beer was disappointing on the whole, and I've been in the mood for a mild all week. In fact I didn't finish the pint.
(I also had a swig of a colleague's Brew Dog Edge, a dark amber ale that is more sharp and bitter than expected. As he put it, "a Friday night beer that gets you in the mood, but you wouldn't want to drink it all night.")
Finally (it was a short night), I had a small glass of Oxfordshire Marshmallow, a dull amber light ale with very faintly fruity odour, and a sweet but bland first taste. There was a bit more subtle sweetness on the swallow, warm with a bit of an edge so not too shallow, but nothing terribly memorable. Less gimmicky than the name might suggest, but a reasonable session ale. All in all a bit meh, though.
(I did have a half of some honey blonde for the road, but found it too hoppy and so didn't bother taking proper notes. I think RV had more to say about some of what he was drinking.)