This view has now been backed up by an in-depth survey carried out by Vianet and Cask Marque which has revealed that:
- 87% of handpumps dispense fewer than 144 pints per week
- 30% of handpumps dispense fewer than 20 pints per week
- 80% of keg taps dispense fewer than 144 pints per week
- The majority of beer in most pubs is sold through 20% of the pumps/taps
- The average pub cellar is too warm on 4 days in each month
The report concludes that most pubs have far too many draught pumps and taps, and that, to ensure better and more consistent beer quality, the number should be reduced, on average, to eleven.
I suspect most regular pubgoers know this in their hearts anyway, but it’s all too easy to be seduced by the lure of more choice. However, as Tandleman has said in the past, both choice and quality are desirable, but quality must always trump choice.
This applies to keg beers just as much as to cask. Keg isn’t a fit-and-forget option, and quality will suffer if it doesn’t turn over quickly enough. The failure of BrewDog’s This.Is.Lager in Wetherspoon’s was a prime example of this and, over the years, I’ve certainly had a few pints of keg lager and Guinness that tasted distinctly stale.
The biggest problem is not in the dedicated multi-beer alehouses, which tend to attract a mainly beer-drinking clientele who ensure that all the pumps do reasonable business, but in more mainstream pubs that put on five or six beers to provide an impression of choice, but really can’t sell enough to justify more than a couple.
It should also be remembered that a large majority of beer drinkers tend to stick to one favoured beer in the pub. Remind me of the last time you saw a lager drinker “go along the pumps”.
* For grammar pedants, I reckon this is an instance where less, rather than fewer, is appropriate. A pub might offer fewer than ten different beers, but sell less than 10 pints a day