I was called to the bar yesterday to watch England. A couple of friends persuaded me out of my solitary existence to watch the football with others. It was in a pub near me, but one that I don't normally go to. I don't care for the place or the beer quality, though in fairness last week when I nipped in just before the last England game to sample the atmosphere and the beer, the bitter was cool and excellent.
Not so yesterday. It tasted off, as if it had been heatstruck before ever reaching the cellar and the Coronation St was a cloudy insult. Both were way too warm which gave a clue. What to do? The family of my friends were there before me and agreed it was poor and they switched to Carlsberg and San Miguel. I tried the Carlsberg. Horrid. All carbonic bite and an odd corn edge. The San Mig was slightly spicy as if a dash of unmalted wheat had been lobbed in. I was tempted, but instead had Lees house lager, Golden Original. It didn't taste of much, but was smoother, fuller and maltier than the Carlsberg. A hefty dose of noble hop would have made this pretty good. I had a few of those and finished off with a San Miguel. It wasn't so bad either, but not something I'd like to repeat often.
I reflected on a few things. Annoyance about the cask beer - this just shouldn't be happening; that this was the first session on British lout I'd had in the pub for over 20 years; how bloody expensive the stuff is.
No wonder they all drink it at home.
And no, I didn't complain. My friends are friends with the manager and I wouldn't have embarrassed them.
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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