This post is by Broggers, who is on twitter here. Our man's a reformed beer geek: he used to mad buy into all that stuff but grew out of it and now just drinks solid cask beers and nice Czech lager. He works in the City and lives in Metroland.
|A lovely pint of Oakham at the author's local. No #murkshaming required.|
Supermarkets have upped their game. Fuller flavoured beers are finding their way into multi-buy and pack deals. Even Morrison's let me leave the store with 4 well regarded bottles of US IPA, 4 tins of Scottish craft IPA and 12 bottles of standard Czech lager for £17.50. Less than a quid for each 330ml rather than the £3+ that many beer shops want for a potential gusher.
That's low risk boozing. In my situation, and that of many others, this matters. Work, commute, toddler, owning and running a house; these things all leave me relatively time and disposable cash poor. Reliable brand, reasonable price are the key influencers of all buying decisions. Ford beers.
There was a window on Sunday to actually get in a pub, leading to a stroll up to the Sportsman. Warm welcome, great beer, outstanding bar stool conversation topics ranging from Ron (nice bloke, knows his beer does Ron, doesn't come in often though) to the era of ice skating on Rickmansworth Aquadrome. So far so good.
But the loud and legion complaints tell me that beer pulled from cask or poured from keg is risky. What if it's flat? Murky? Old? Are the lines clean? Does the man behind the bar think it's supposed to be like that just to compound the misery of parting with hard earned for poor product?
I fancied some pale and hoppy and went for a Truman Zephyr; an unexpected delight that left an echo of melon and Parma ham on the palate (oooh get me). Oakham JHB and Green Devil (keg) followed and delivered the standard Oakham experience. Hop forward beer from independent breweries (my choice, dark and fruity beer lovers were catered for too. So were people who like Carling and Guinness but with actual Carling and Guinness rather than the haughty patter of 'why don't you try this alternative'). Both cask and keg without even a slight haze let alone shameful murk.
The damage; two Zephyr, one JHB and two Green Devil came in at £17.50.
What this and other pubs like it tell me is that it isn't enough to just care about your beer offering. It'll take experience, skill and hard work on top of that to free drinking out of the home from risk completely. The complaints make clear that many operators are missing at least one.
In order to free myself from my reclusive Croxley Green booze haven, I plan to venture to Berkhamsted and Little Chalfont over the next week to keep this blog rolling.