Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Bad Times, Good Times.


The lot of the beer drinker isn't always a happy one. While looking for the princess, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. Unfortunately it is the nature of the beast in beer drinking, as in life, that you have a lot of lows which make the highs so much more satisfying. In beer though, I doubt that it should be like this. Some beer is just out and out poor and a lot of beer is just poorly presented. An insult to both brewer and customer.

My trip to Scotland a couple of weeks ago was a case in point. There was highs in my first two beers. The Drum and Monkey offered St Peter's Mild and Roosters Welsummer. Both were splendid, with St Peter's Mild a superb example of the style. The Roosters surprised by being particularly good. As Tyson has pointed out, this isn't always so these days, though I have a feeling things are getting better there. Top marks to both.  Alas that ended the short run of success as in the Counting House, Salopian Lemon Dream was a vinegary nightmare and Bateman's Summer Swallow a dumper, which was a surprise, as despite their similarity, I quite like Bateman's beers. Sometimes things go from bad to worse of course.  In the Camperdown, Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted was actively horrid. and Kelburn Pivo Estimo tasted mostly of unfermented wort. The highs and lows of cask, all in an hour and a half.  And I did note grimly that it was the English beers that shone.  I won't even bother mentioning some of the other awful Scottish tasters, mostly dark, mostly appallingly malty and all poor.  Things did very much look up the next day in the Henry Bell as reported here. but this was a reminder that you should be wary of those that suggest - and I have seen it suggested - that there is a wonderful, faultless Scottish Brewing scene.  There is indeed a revival, but some breweries have yet to find their way.

On the positive side, back in Manchester, a Saturday CAMRA meeting saw a cracker of a beer though. Allgates Ostrava on first tasting was a touch dry, but boy did it develop into a beer of great drinkability and I like drinkability. I'm hearing good things about Allgates and  thinking of trusted palates here, Tyson says good things about them and that makes me sit up and take notice.

There is a serious point to this unfortunate tale of woe.  Now I know there are many that don't like negative comments and naming names, but I wasted a fair bit of money on duff beers, had that sneaking feeling that I should limit my drinking to places and breweries I know and trust - and that isn't a good thing - and overall was hardly uplifted by my beer drinking.  On the whole, I felt badly let down and wondered what a less experienced drinker would have done.  Ordered a pint of Carling probably.

I keep banging on about quality at both breweries and in pubs and make no apologies for doing so.  Bad beer does no-one any favours. At least at the end though I did snog a couple of princesses, but why on earth were there so many frogs?

There is an optimistic side to this. It is still fantastic to discover a great beer. You then forget all the negatives.

15 comments:

Pete Drinks said...

I suspect it was more about the bar and less about the beer.

While I can't claim to have drunk them all, I've found both Summer Swallow and Bitter & Twisted to be quite drinkable (if unremarkable) beers.

It constantly amazes me that bars can sell beer that they clearly haven't actually tasted that day.

Phil said...

"appallingly malty" forsooth. Thanks for not naming those at least.

Tandleman said...

Phil - I edited a fair but out. Not just malty which is one thing, but a mass of phenols, harsh fruit, twigginess and more. Awful. Should have left them in.

arn said...

And I'm glad you name names.

Curmudgeon said...

How many of these bad beers did you try to return, and what was the result?

(Obviously there is a difference between beer that is off, and well-kept beer that is just unpalatable)

Tandleman said...

The only one I returned was the vinegary Lemon Dream. The others were just not well made beers imo. It would have been difficult to make a case. I suspect most would just have left them as I did.

Tyson said...

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive?

Tandleman said...

Or travel hopefully but don't expect all will be good?

Nick Levitan said...

Next Time your In Scotland, you have to try Brew Dog - a great new brewery.

Curmudgeon said...

I think Tandy may already be familiar with BrewDog...

py0 said...

I've had Lemon Dream before and thought it was ok if not amazing. It certainly wasn't vinegary.

Ed said...

Seems strange about the bitter and twisted. See a lot of it around and its always a reliable choice for me.

Owen said...

You really should name the bad beers, if only because if you don't a little bit of mud sticks to all the beers of that style.

Pivot Estivo is by no means a bad beer, nor is B&T. I wouldn't call either exciting, but they're reliable and well-made.

Are you sure you weren't having an off day?

Owen said...

You really should name the bad beers, if only because if you don't a little bit of mud sticks to all the beers of that style.

Pivot Estivo is by no means a bad beer, nor is B&T. I wouldn't call either exciting, but they're reliable and well-made.

Are you sure you weren't having an off day?

Tandleman said...

Owen. It is a question of what you find on the day and trusting your own palate. I agree B&T isn't normally that bad and I described my experience of Pivo Estimo to Derek, the owner of Kelburn, at GBBF. He and I have known and worked with each other for years. He was grateful for the feedback.

I already name more names that most, but it would serve no purpose to name more.

It was a bad day, but that's beer for you.