What is? London is. There is a step change in what is happening in the capital. More choice and better choice, new bars opening, new breweries appearing and getting space on bars because they are local. (Not yet because they are universally good.) Better awareness of beer all round it seems too and it is happening fast. Very fast. Publicans and pub chains are thinking about beer and how they can make something more of it and that is fantastic and overdue. London has great pubs and now we are on the way to great beer. Brilliant.
There are still problems, though most can be easily eradicated. First range and choice. Too much samey brown beer. The golden, hoppy, quaffing beer is still hard to find and when you do it is likely to be Dark Star Hophead. No bad thing in itself, but there are others out there. Variety is important and if like me you are unattracted to a certain style of beer, you will have lost a customer if there isn't a bit of real choice, rather than just a variation on a single theme. When choosing beers, spread the choice and broaden the appeal.
The second is temperature and condition. There is still too much tired, flabby and overvented beer being sold at over 16C- and sold for top dollar too. That's easily sorted and it is instructive that you are at least as likely to get a properly conditioned pint, served at cellar temperature in a JDW or a Nicolsons (haven't they improved?) than you are in some of the the new fancy beer emporia. Particularly disappointing as you would hope that the new specialist beer bars, appealing to younger drinkers and beer enthusiasts as they do, would be leading the way on this.
So with a few caveats, great stuff and huge potential for more, but the old mantra of quality, quality, quality, can never be repeated enough. While it may be needed more in London, it should be the watchword of every publican in the land, particularly in these difficult times.
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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