Saturday, 28 June 2014

The better part of valour?

I’m in a Brains tied pub in a Welsh market town to have a bite of lunch. I order a pint of Brains Bitter, which is OK but a bit past its best. There are a couple on a nearby table – he has a half of a paler beer and says out loud “this is terrible, it’s like vinegar!” I suggest he should complain, but he demurs, saying it’s not really worth it if he’s only having a half. It turns out it is their seasonal beer, British Summer.

You can’t really blame him for not wanting to kick up a fuss, and occasionally I’ve done the same myself. As I’ve said before, people go out for a relaxing drink, not an argument. But, on the other hand, if customers don’t complain the licensee gets no feedback and the vicious circle continues. He finishes it and they leave without ordering any food – I have no idea whether they were thinking about eating there.

It’s hardly surprising the average punter is reluctant to order cask beer in unfamiliar pubs if they stand a high chance of getting a dud. And I’d very much doubt whether the pub in question has the turnover to offer four cask beers in decent nick throughout the week – although, to be fair, it did serve up a decent, good-value sandwich.

Would you have taken your half back in those circumstances?

Incidentally, on the same trip I went in a busy Wetherspoon’s, spotted a favourite beer on the bar, and was not entirely surprised to be served up with a pint of soup.


  1. Yes, I would. My dad always used to and I do the same; not that it happens that often. Why would you not? You'd take a cup of tea back if they'd put salt in it instead of sugar.

  2. Professor Pie-Tin28 June 2014 at 12:16

    Always complain.
    Always have done and always will.
    In the States they don't appear to take offence and will be genuinely concerned if everything isn't ok.
    Here we prefer not to make a fuss with inevitable lowering of standards.
    I was once so angered by the thunderous repetition, despite repeated protests, of the same CD played over and over again for 14 hours a day beside a hotel pool in Turkey ( Californication by the Red Hot Chili Peppers - I know every song word for word ! )I made a video of it,interviewed equally-aggrieved guests and took the holiday company to court - they settled the day before and refunded the entire cost of the family holiday when I threatened to invite BBC's Watchdog cameras down to the court and supply them with the video.
    I'm a great believer in being pro-active about the smallest thing - I've even stood on my chair in a restaurant with a napkin on my head and said nothing until the manager came over.
    " What are you doing ? " he said.
    " Hello,nice to meet you.Actually its nice to meet anyone because we've been sat here for half an hour and haven't even seen a waiter with a menu, " I replied, to applause from nearby tables.
    We left before anyone in the kitchens could wipe our food around their nether regions before serving it up.
    Taking back a vinegary pint is a piece of piss.

  3. Yes, always complain. If the meat in your sandwich was off you'd not hesitate so why drink beer that's off? If the reaction is anything other than an apology and a new drink that isn't off it's time to go.

  4. I agree that customers should always complain if given a sub-standard product, but if they're never going back and feel it would just create a bad atmosphere I can understand why they don't.

    The point, of course, is that they shouldn't have to.

  5. Yes, Cookie, I have to admit that once or twice during last week that is the conclusion I reached :p


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