We had our six weekly CAMRA Committee meeting last night in Sam Smith's Yew Tree near Rochdale. It has the advantage of being reasonably central and has a guaranteed private room. It also has cask Old Brewery Bitter or, rather, did.
When I got there, three of my colleagues were already there. I sensed something was up. "It's gone keg" says one. Damn. A well dressed and very posh gentleman was on his mobile at the bar. He had a large list in front of him and was asking each recipient of his calls in turn, in the plummiest of tones, "Do you have a spare microwave?" He preceded this by announcing "Humphrey Smith, Area Manager here". I whispered to my friends, "This is the top man - this is Mr Humphrey, the controlling owner of Sam's". We determined to beard him in his den. When he got off the phone, introductions were made. "Why had the cask been removed?" "Head Brewer says you need to sell an 18 a day otherwise the beer sours in wood." quoth he gruffly. "Why not do metal nines then?". "This is a traditional brewery" says the oracle. "Our cask beer comes in wood." One of our number continued the conversation as he went out to his car, a very modest X reg Rover 75. Apart from a sideswipe about Lees, he got no further. Mr Humphrey had left the building.
We had a quiet word with the landlady after his departure. Was he really the Area Manager? Yes. He had taken over when the last one left, to save money it seems. Now Sam's are known for their eccentricity. It comes from the top as Mr H rules the roost. What he says, goes, odd or not. You also now know the criteria for getting cask in your local Sam's pub. Flog an eighteen a day!
He presumably wanted the microwave for re-heating" the pre-prepared meals, from the company they recently bought. They introduced standard menus and chucked out all home cooked food, though I believe in some cases, this has been moderated.