Sunday, 11 April 2010

On and Off the Boil

Even the best of pubs have off days and so it proved yesterday. I met my mate Mike after a visit to the CAMRA Regional Meeting, where the Chief Executive Mike Benner was a guest speaker and was most impressive. His grasp of CAMRA's role as a super complainant and his understanding of the industry and the various pressures on the average drinker inspired me. There is so much going on behind the scenes that I am rethinking a motion I have to the AGM later this week. I left feeling that the campaign has a very able person indeed at the helm and looking forward to a chance to chat to him in Douglas.

Less inspiring was the beer in the Black Horse in Salford, with Mallinson's Tulip and Lytham Gold both being a bit under conditioned. Worse was to follow in the Old Wellington in Shambles Square. This GBG listed pub had no less than seven pumpclips out of eight turned round. The sole offering was Otley O1 which we found hard to finish. A really poor show. It can be depressing to list a lot of bad beer and pubs, but suffice to say that the beer in the Waterhouse (JDW) wasn't great and even the Marble Arch was below par too. (As an aside, the barman advised me the brewers have decided that Dobber should not be served with a sparkler - Odd) On the positive side, The Angel was comfortably above average and only the City Arms provided perfect cask beer.

So as always with the real stuff, you win some and you lose some. It was ever thus, but frustrating all the same.


Bailey said...

Sounds rough. Seven out of eight pumps dead sounds a bit mad -- had they had a sudden unexpected run on ale? It makes my heart sink to see flipped pump clips in a pub.

Curmudgeon said...

If Mike Benner's been doing stuff behind the scenes he's keeping it remarkably well concealed.

Gazza Prescott said...

He sounds like some bean-counter who knows nowt about beer in pubs. I mean, has he ever been in a pub and drunk a pint?

All this "super complainant" stuff is very headline-grabbing but, let's face it, CAMRA are like a whore who'll take money from whoever is offering - look at What's Brewing for backup of this. Adverts for all manner of kak brewers and pub companies, but any mention of the great micros in the UK? No, it's all Greede Kerching this and Fullers that.

The rule seems to be - IMO - as long as you can afford the advertising we'll look after you, else you're not worth the column inches.

Some campaigning organisation, that. Wish I was still a member...!

Tandleman said...

Mudgie: That was kind of my point which you miss or ignore.

Gazza: Best stick to ticking and leave the analysis to others.

Curmudgeon said...

Tandy, I didn't really interpret your comment as being tongue-in-cheek. Mike Benner is an impressive and persuasive speaker.

Cooking Lager said...

Met him in Tesco, filling his trolley with discount Foster's. Nice chap. He told me to fill my boots before he got it banned.

Gazza Prescott said...

So, I can hold opinions as long as they agree with yours? I've done my Camra service, saw what it was like and gave it up as a bad joke; Camra don't care about micros, all they care about is their precious regional dinosaurs.

Where's your evidence to dispute this claim? Certainly not in WB, which is reads like a collection of press releases and adverts for regional beers.

So, disagree with me, but at least provide some evidence as to why you think Camra isn't in the regional brewer's pocket and doesn't care about micro brewers?

Tandleman said...

I know your opinions on this and you are welcome to express them here. I don't exactly disagree with you re WB but the cask beer scene is more politically complex than you suggest. It is probably more complex on all levels.

I think CAMRA does care about micro brewers, but as they will never provide enough volume and do meet a demand - OK not yours or mine mostly - and the main thing holding them back isn't the regionals, but the PubCos. CAMRA is spending a lot of effort in tackling the tie as it pertains to PubCos and to driving a wedge between IFFB, SIBA and the BBPA.

That is likely to help the whole British Brewing scene. There is much more than that besides.

I know your views and you won't have them satisfied by CAMRA to your way of thinking, but while you and I may love hops, it isn't the be all and end all. I think CAMRA likes to see cask still as a mainstream products while others are content to see it reform as a niche. Tricky one but a blanker referral just to boring old regionals wasn't to my mind that helpful.

Hope this expansion helps some readers at least.

PS - Steel City for NWAF? Up for that?

Reluctant Scooper said...

Dobber sans sparkler was indeed the preferred method of dispense when I visited last year; we actually ordered one pint with and one without to taste the difference. Certainly tastier without the sparkler IMO.

Montague said...

Loving this!

Gazza Prescott said...

I actually agree that the tie is a thing that needs fighting, and it's one fight Camra have picked right - but they should realise when a fight isn't worth carrying on with such as duty rises and full pints, both a total waste of time as nothing will ever happen on either count. Yes, small brewery duty is a fantastic thing, but it wasn't just Camra who made this happen, Siba were the major pushers for it.

I just get frustrated by what, I suppose, is the "old guard" in Camra who still write stuff about Fullers, Wells et al as if they were the saviours of cask ale...well, maybe 30 years back, but what about the new boys? Do Camra ever mention Brewdog? No. Thornbridge? occasionally. Marble? Very rarely.

I suppose becoming more involved in the small brewing scene and talking to more brewers has only reinforced what I already suspected that, nationally at least, Camra are totally out of touch with the cask ale market. Locally they do well, I'd not dispute that, but the main message coming from HQ is just a joke,

As for Dobber sans sparkler, it's not a patch on it with one - many, many visits and research beers have proved this to me... but I'm an arsey northerner (!)

Tandleman said...

Not much to argue with there really. Full pints is a waste of time for a start.

I've said it before and will again. CAMRA locally and nationally are two different beasts.

Paul Bailey said...

Will hopefully bump ino Mr Benner in the I.O.M. this weekend, and make up my own mind about him.

If you are still on for meeting up, Tandleman, how about during the lunch interval, on Saturday in the member's bar. Failing that, how about the following day?

You can text me on 0787 232 8011.I look forward to meeting you and sharing a beer or two.