Saturday 22 October 2011

Is no cask better than bad cask?

Last night, we were out on a CAMRA pub crawl of the southern fringe of Stockport town centre. We went in one particular pub, a bog-standard, modernised Robinson’s local. The only cask beer available was Unicorn, and it was utterly vile. Not cloudy, not vinegary, but with an overpowering appley off-flavour. Had I been in the pub on my own, I would just have left it on the table and sneaked out, but when you are out in public as the identifiable “CAMRA posse”* you are conscious of the impression you may make, so most of us forced it down.

But if a pub like that can’t keep cask beer in decent nick, then surely it would make sense not to bother at all. Bear in mind this was Friday night, supposedly one of the busiest sessions of the week. The time when “all their pubs serve real ale” was seen as a brewery virility symbol is long gone.

It also must be said how good the atmosphere was in the final venue, Sam Smith’s Queen’s Head – and the Old Brewery Bitter was only £1.52 a pint! This must be a future candidate for the Campaign for Real Pubs.

Incidentally, this was a repeat of the pub crawl described here.

* Only one person present had a beard, although the average age was undoubtedly well north of 40.


  1. CAMRA or no CAMRA, what's the matter with handing it back? A pint of Guinness is better than a bad pint of cask. Then move swiftly on.

  2. when one person hands a pint back the staff probably think 'fussy bugger', but when a group do surely that would cause them to pause and consider that there is something wrong with it.
    Surprised that you didn't.

  3. Good heavens,Mudgers
    a posse of CAMRA's ,ONLY ONE with a facial sporran ,are you sure they were male.Anyway Mudgers you are an hero,trudging round South Stockport supping in Robbies sheds with a bunch shaven hop sniffers,
    that is worthy of an Iron Cross with Oak Leaves

    Maybe some of the worthies may be
    interested in the outbreak of
    "HELP FOR HEROES" nights at some
    Robbies Pubs
    They could carry some of the
    disabled veterans into the backyards and prop them up on
    wheely bins while they have a smoke,just a gesture,no need to stay.

    PS Robbies Bitter???
    A few of my friends who still
    frequent the local morgues tell me supping Robbies Bitter is akin to
    nibbling a whore's thong

    Sofa Sipper

  4. Do not sup a poor pint or it will remain poor for everyone.

  5. Missed opportunity there Mudgie. How can CAMRA campaign on improving the consistency of cask in pubs when their own members turn a blind eye and pretend everything is alright?

  6. I'm also surprised that nothing was said. CAMRA posse or not, a group complaint carries more weight than an individual one.

    However, putting my technical head on, you may have had been barking up the wrong tree if you had complained. What you describe sounds like acetaldehyde. People's sensitivity to this varies, but in any case, it's not the pub's fault. It's a brewing fault, so the blame would lie with Robinsons.

  7. I never accept a bad pint. I'm not a person who complains at the drop of a hat, but beer is heading towards £3 a pint. If I bought a sandwich for £1, I'd take it back it it was stale.

  8. shoulda sent it back ... whether the brewer's fault for a bad brew or the pub's fault for not keeping it well ... too many pub customers don't complain which is to the detriment of the entire trade

  9. What Sid said. Poor show for what could only be perceived as the right reasons if you have forgotten we are a campaign.

    There could have been a quiet word and an explanation that you were all leaving without drinking the beer.

    Forcing any beer down is pointless.

  10. Yes, with hindsight something should really have been said, although the dynamics of the situation are not always such that it is quite as straightforward as it might seem when sitting behind a keyboard.

    And, of course, it would only serve to reinforce the reputation of CAMRA as people who come in every other year, buy a round of halves and then just moan about the beer ;-)

  11. I answer to the question in the title of this post: I think no cask is better than habitually bad cask.

  12. Martin, Cambridge26 October 2011 at 18:03

    Never much fun handing back a poor point, even more so when real ale is a reluctant feature and the bar person has to consult a manager.

    Fair play to S&SM for their continued championing of the suburban local on crawls like these, which undoubtedly helped put cask back on the northern A6.

    Some CAMRA branches (not my own local branch) appear to stick to supporting their tried and tested beerhouses.


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