Monday, 26 July 2010


Attractive pub in a prominent location, with an extensive food menu. Not as busy as you think it should be, but then again, when are most pubs busy nowadays apart from Friday nights? “Pint of bitter, please.” The barman serves it, looking mildly aggrieved that you’ve asked him to do some work. Glass full of bubbles, slowly starts to clear from the bottom, but it’s not crystal. Grip the glass, and your heart sinks, as it’s room temperature, whereas with a decent pint of cask beer you would expect some sensation of coolness. It’s probably the first pint of cask sold that session, although the pub has been open for an hour and a half. Once the pint has cleared, it retains a slight but discernible haze and, while the beer’s not off as such, it’s distinctly tired, end-of-barrelish and lacking condition. In a pub where you were known, you might well mention to the licensee that the beer was a bit below par, but here there’s no point; you just drink it, put the glass back on the bar and leave. Not the best way of spending £2.60 of your hard-earned cash. You won’t be going there again in a hurry, and if social events took you there, and you weren’t a diehard cask drinker, you’d probably choose smooth, or lager, or Guinness. Regrettably, while there are pubs where you can be confident that won’t happen, it’s all too typical of the experience of ordering a pint of cask beer in random pubs at quieter times.


  1. At least now I will not have to smell tobacco smoke because of selfish smokers thinking only of themselves or have it lingering on my clothes and hair causing me to shower and launder my clothing more than I would have liked.

  2. Yet more evidence that anti-smokers are not only easily-led and neurotic they are also insanely obsessive (what does the post have to do with smoking?) and also have appalling personal hygiene. The way some of them go on about actually having to, you know, wash, you'd think having a bath was the equivalent of swimming the Channel. Hardly surprising the few remaining pubs stink of mildew and B.O.

  3. But it's always ordered with hope that it'll be great and on another day maybe it would've been... You just never know.

  4. Dunno, there are a lot of pubs around with a kind of lackadaisical attitude where such an experience is all too common. I have had several such in tourist-oriented pubs in the West Country, for example. On the other hand, there are a fair number of pubs where you know you have a 90% chance of getting a good pint. There's a lot more to it than just chance.

  5. Spot on post. Experience this several times a week too whilst tootling around rural Kent. Clueless bar staff/laziness chiefly to blame.

  6. Anon @ 15.02
    Obviously a limp wristed ,jessified
    pen pusher who has never wore
    overalls in anger or reeked of
    boiling tar.

    Sounds like an of the shelf standard edition from Nanny's
    book shelf

    Buzz off you silly little person
    haunt someone elses loft and if you are one of those froth sniffing hand wavers,double Buzz

    MacAdams Fusilier

  7. Martin, Cambridge27 July 2010 at 22:51

    CAMRA has (rightly)encouraged handpumps as a sign of a quality establishment, but its easy to forget that it takes hard work, as well as consistent custom, to guarantee consistent pints.

    In a high number of tourist resorts, as well as many parts of North London, the handpump seems to have the same purpose as the blackboard menu, meeting the average middle class pub-goers expectation of what a pub look likes.

    The range of beer will be driven by perceived reputation (Adnams/Doom Bar/Bombardier), and be tired at best. In summer in this type of pub Magners will outsell real ale 20 to 1. Far better to offer an interesting bottled range, as you've said before.

  8. I'm sure the pub in question has enough trade to sell decent cask beer - it is, after all, a tied house of one of the Greater Manchester family brewers. I think it may have been in the Good Beer Guide in the past.

    This particular experience reflects a "can't be arsed" attitude, which seems to spill over into putting customers off.

    FWIW I would have thought this pub would be one that had least to fear from the smoking ban.

  9. Any business that doesn't care about quality control and customer satisfaction doesn't deserve to be in business!

  10. A pub (except perhaps in major town and city centres) is more than just a business, though, as it's somewhere people pass a substantial amount of time and may have no convenient alternative. If you go in a shop and get poor service, odds are you'll just take your business elsewhere. If you go in a pub and get poor service, you are more likely to think "it's a shame this place isn't better run." Two hundred years of history at the Dog & Duck shouldn't be brought to an end by one incompetent licensee.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. To combat persistent trolling, unregistered comments are liable to be deleted unless I recognise the author. If you intend to make more than the occasional comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.