Yesterday after calling in at the Co-op to chat to the Hall Manager about the National Winter Ales Festival, me and the Organiser, my mate Graham - did I ever mention I am Deputy Organiser? - went on a wander round the Northern Quarter of Manchester. I won't bore you with details except to mention one incident, which still has me shaking my head with disbelief.
Bar Fringe on Swan St is a kind of Belgian style bar which is very popular and has long been in the Good Beer Guide. It also sells four or five cask ales. We often call in on our travels, though the beer never reaches the heights it could and some of the staff can be attitudinally challenged. Last night was a case in point. I had a very dodgy pint of Holden's Pirate, clearly past its best and getting cardboardy and oxidisedwhile Graham's Allgates didn't seem to be pulling through. A few more tugs on the handpump and he was told "Hang on, the cask needs tilting". (I don't think I've ever encountered that in a pub.) This was duly done and a murky pint presented. Graham brought it back to where I was sitting. It was clearly all "bottoms" and was not fit to drink. He took it back along with mine. A few seconds later he was back. His request for replacements was summarily rejected with the words "you are not getting a free pint here". He even had to endure the charade of the two young barmaids tasting "his" beer and pronouncing it "fine". Given that we had paid for two undrinkable pints, we left, pints virtually untouched, a fiver poorer and a lot wiser.
Needless to say, we won't be going back and indeed may not be welcome back as I've a feeling that sooner or later, we'll get the blame for this piece of nonsense -it's that kind of place. I am happy for them to prove me wrong of course!
Liking to provide a contrast, the excellent barmaid in the nearby Angel, insisted on us trying all three cask beers before we purchased and was a credit to the place. The beers were in tip top condition too. Well done!
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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