So now that beer festivalitis has temporarily left me, I can return to the normal world of beer. Saturday saw a pub crawl of Manchester, though unfortunately I missed out on the start at the Port St Beer House, which I like. It was a change from the usual haunts and I was delighted to note excellent beer quality in the Crown and Kettle, the Castle, the Soup Kitchen, the Piccadilly and the Bank. Not every beer was to my taste, but I certainly couldn't complain about the condition or temperature of any. That's a good thing and I will return to this theme of quality much more in the future. Top beer of the day? Well a half of Old Tom was sublime in the Castle. I'm not a fan of Robinson's beers, as I consider the house yeast far too dominant, but a beer such as Old Tom can push that into the background readily enough. On cask and 8.5%, it was probably the pick of a decent day's supping and certainly debunked the myth that you can't put strong beers on cask.
One issue did come up. Jaipur was on in the Bank and once again it failed to hit the mark. Overly sweet and sticky, it just didn't appeal to me or any of my drinking companions and while it may be hitting the spot still for some, I'll be approaching it with much more scepticism than previously as I just don't seem to get a good pint of it and haven't for well over a year.
Returning to the issue of quality, I have become aware of - or rather, been reacquainted with - a fairly widespread problem of pubs that aren't thriving, buying beer in cash as they go along, with many resulting quality problems, such as green beer, hazy beer and beer that has dropped bright, but has not yet conditioned. This affects many pubs and I was advised at NWAF that Adnams are countering this problem by conditioning their beer for longer in the brewery before releasing it. Other brewers may be doing this too or thinking about it, but it is a widespread problem, often affecting tenanted pubs of small regional brewers and is a hidden but pernicious aspect to the doubtful viability of some pubs. The brewery knows a pub is in trouble when the dray order is dropped and the beer is being bought for cash. Alarm bells clang loudly.
Next time you get a duff pint in a brewery owned tenanted pub, consider if you can, that it may not have been presented as the brewer intends for reasons other than cellar incompetence.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, 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 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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