On New Year’s Eve last year, I accompanied American visitors Dick and Dave Southworth on a brief tour of some of Stockport’s pubby delights. We went in the Red Bull, where Hartley’s Cumbria Way was on the bar at the bargain price of £2 a pint. I was doubtful, but one of them was tempted, only to receive, as I could have predicted, a glass of beer that wasn’t off as such, but distinctly tired, stale and lacking condition. The standard full-price beers, though, were fine.
Later in January, Reading CAMRA luminary Sir Quinno and his missus made a fleeting lunchtime visit to Stockport, which they had never been to before. After a swift half in the Crown, we headed uphill to the Armoury, where again one beer, I think Robinsons’ outgoing seasonal, was available at a reduced price. Once more, one of them was tempted, and ended up with a lacklustre pint, while the standard beers were in good nick.
Realistically, cask beer is only going to be reduced if it’s getting past its best and the pub is struggling to sell it, so, however attractive the price may seem, a cut-price offer will rarely be worth the risk. The only possible exception is particularly strong beers that are likely to keep better and may be still be palatable even if they have acquired a somewhat vinous character.