A pub was recently put forward for Pub of the Month in the local CAMRA branch. It seemed to be very much on the up, and the beer had certainly impressed on a recent Friday night at the end of a pub crawl. However, I had called in there since then at a quieter time and had a couple of pints that were both indifferent verging on poor. Beer quality is not something just for busy times, but needs to be maintained throughout the week. It is one thing to tap a cask and serve it quickly when the pub is heaving, but something else to have a sensible policy of stock rotation to match demand and to understand the rituals of hard and soft pegging so that the beer will still be in good nick when trade is much thinner, which nowadays is most of the week. The fact that a pub is quiet is no excuse for lacklustre beer.
This brought to mind an episode a few years ago when there was a free house in Stockport called the Stanley Arms – now long since closed so I can discuss it without attracting libel writs. It served, for the time, a very adventurous range of beers, and on Friday and Saturday nights it was busy and the beer was generally good. For this reason, it found its way into the Good Beer Guide, even though by Tuesday a customer would be confronted with twelve different varieties of Sarson’s Best. One Tuesday night, a friend and I made the effort to go down there and sampled four beers between us, none of which were remotely decent. It didn’t get in the Guide again, and indeed probably never should have done in the first place. I wonder how many other Guide stalwarts might be vulnerable to that kind of scrutiny.