Sunday 20 May 2012

Market failure

The most recent Stockport and South Manchester CAMRA “Stagger” was around Stockport Market Place, which I had previously written up here (see Page 9). In some ways it was a dispiriting experience – Bambooza and Sam’s Bar are long closed, the Bull’s Head and Thatched House more recently, the Greene King IPA in the Egerton Arms was Sarson’s Best, and neither the Pack Horse nor the Old Rectory had any cask beer on. A few years ago the Market Place was often spoken of as a hub of the town’s social life, but sadly no longer.

Having said that, Spoons’ Calvert’s Court continues to thrive (even if, to my eye, it is a soulless barn and also, on this occasion, uncomfortably overheated) and the Baker’s Vaults was setting up for a live music session. And Sam Smith’s Boar’s Head, Robinson’s Arden Arms and the Railway, which was added as an impromptu final venue due to the lack of cask beer in the earlier parts of the itinerary, were all as good as ever. Old Brewery Bitter was £1.80 in the Boar’s Head, compared with £1.36 two and a half years ago.

The vileness of the beer in the Egerton Arms again raises the question of whether there is any point in marginal outlets trying to sell cask if they don’t have sufficient turnover or cellarmanship skills.


  1. The obvious answer for Pubs like the one you mention is Keg, but some people would prefer any degree of foulness in a Cask to risking these new fangled Keg beers.

  2. Oh Dear Oh Dear
    My dear Hero Mudgie admitting a "stagger" round Stockport with
    a bunch of hop sniffers and yeast samplers. Could be worse,like an
    evening of unmitigated misery in Oldham or what about the real pits a night with he Neanderthals in Manchester

    "Where have all the flowers Gone"

  3. Bet you wished you'd stayed in with a couple of cans of lout.

  4. Out of all the many real ale drinkers that I know, I can't think of anyone who would prefer bad real ale to keg. That, Liberty, is just a fantasy of yours ~ haven't you got better things to fantasise about?

  5. The problem in the pubs referred to is that the regulars do drink keg, in the form of John Smith's or Tetley's, rather than cask.

    And "craft keg" is hardly likely to find many takers in bog-standard Stockport locals.

  6. With reference to your final point Mudgie, I would say there is no point at all in marginal outlets trying to sell cask if the demand isn't there, and/or the licensee is lacking the necessary cellarmanship skills. All it does it give cask a bad name, and may even deter people from trying it elsewhere.

  7. I agree, Paul, but inevitably the local CAMRA magazine (with the best will in the world) will report it as good news that the Jolly Plover has put cask on (even if they strongly suspect it will be shite) and bad news if they take it out (even if it was shite).

    To be honest, this particular evening was probably better for not having to have a drink that would have been at best indifferent in the Egerton Arms, Pack Horse or Old Rectory.

  8. Your local CAMRA magazine will usually report real ale gains and losses in such pubs in a rather matter of fact way in my experience. It also will point out that the beer was shite when shite beer was encountered. Another of your little pops there?

    By the way, the beer in the Old Rectory was in my experience usually pretty good, as was, come to think of it, the Copper Dragon in the Pack Horse.

  9. "Another of your little pops there?"

    Not at all - are you seeing offence when none was intended?

    It is a fact of life that the presentation of anything as "gains" and "losses" will inevitably be perceived in terms of positive and negative.

  10. Martin, Cambridge23 May 2012 at 22:47

    In defence of Stockport & SM CAMRA, the newsletter is one of the few to give a view on the quality, rather than just name the range of beer.

    The introduction of a single cask beer with decent turnover IS a good thing, but that pub will need more sales than those from the occasional CAMRA stagger, however welcome.

  11. Yes the calverts court is a bit soulless and a bit noisy at times but the beer is usually excellent , it wasn't long ago that the beer was usually badly kept and poor quality. It's a shame that the kings hall in cheadle hulme hasn't had the same imporvement in beer , the range is usually limited with a couple of pumps off , the abbott being mediocre , and too many brewery specials where nearly every other beer is from one brewery such as beartown which I have tried a few times and have yet to find one I like , and I have a very wide taste range.

    Keg v bad cask - both as bad as each other , the fizzy pop keg is a waste of time , and bad cask is a waste of time and money, good cask is essential


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