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.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, CAMRA Chairman and (local) 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 and 2011. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
This blog mentions specifics; pubs and beer, good and bad. The opinions will be forthright, but you can always disagree, just don't be offended. Comments from those mentioned are particularly welcome and a right of reply is hereby offered.
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