At times, any beer drinker with a social life beyond the ticking circuit is likely to find himself in an establishment where no cask beer is available. Does he cut off his nose to spite his face and ostentatiously refuse to drink any non-real beer at all, and thus end up being branded by the rest of the company as a prize prat? Or does he go for something else, and, if so, what?
Personally, I find nitrokeg “smooth” beers utterly revolting, with the character of dishwater. I can stomach Guinness, though, although if I drink too much of it, it can have unfortunate after-effects. In general, though, I tend to see if there are any imported lagers on the bar. Heineken and even Beck’s Vier are palatable enough, although a genuine German draught like Warsteiner or Krombacher is preferable. In extremis, I may even end up on British-brewed Stella, but the British-brewed standard lagers such as Carling really are beyond the pale. Sometimes I even feel it would be worth bringing back the old-fashioned keg beers, which were a bit fizzier than cask but avoided the soapiness of nitro.
You can also look at the bottle shelf, although in general a pub that has no cask beer will have no decent bottles either. There seems to be a direct relationship between the number and quality of cask beers available, and the number and quality of bottled beers.
The point must also be made that many people are “repertoire drinkers”, who may well drink cask beer and appreciate it on occasions but also at other times enjoy lager and Guinness. The view that any draught product other than cask is the spawn of the devil really does the overall appreciation of beer no good at all.