For a man that shuns publicity, Humphrey Smith, Managing Director of Sam Smith's Tadcaster Brewery, doesn't half manage to attract it. Some will recall his spat over the use of the Yorkshire Rose with Cropton Brewery and others may remember another ding dong with a licensee who was locked in the accommodation part of his pub following a dispute with the brewery and had to hire scaffolding to exit and enter via his bedroom window. All great knockabout stuff.
I am grateful to one of my CAMRA members for alerting me to yet another exhibition of oddballery. It seems Humphrey himself, to quote the dear old Oldham Chronicle turned up at a local Royton pub on New Year's Eve and closed it down pronto. "Staff and customers were stunned when one of the multi-millionaire owners of Samuel Smith’s Brewery (Humphrey) walked in and shut down Royton’s Junction Inn at 8.30pm on New Year’s Eve." According to the Chron, this was the culmination of a row over full measure pints. That is serving them, not for not doing so. Sam's, (as I observed last night by reading the brewery signs on the wall in a different Sam's pub,) have a policy of serving 95% liquid and a creamy head and offer requests for a top up only if spillage over the glass can be avoided. Given that most Sam's pubs offer nitrokeg beer, that might be tricky. In my case I was given a pint of Dark Mild with an inch and a half of head and a half pint glass with a smidgin of beer which I could then use to top up at my leisure. I won't name the pub though, in case Humph takes the hump and knocks on their door too.
It seems though this is the nub of the problem in the Junction, though of course there may be more to it than meets the eye. Things aren't always what they seem. I can't put Sam's side of the story though. The Chron obligingly tells you why: "The Chronicle contacted Mr Smith yesterday who said “we have nothing to say” before hanging up.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer author, 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. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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