Monday, 7 December 2015

What's Going On?

One or two of my most dedicated readers may have noticed that there has been nothing from me to read for a bit. I'm not ill, just busy. CAMRA stuff has been a full time job recently and makes me wonder if, far from being held back by us old duffers the organisation is actually gaining a huge amount from experienced types like me ensuring, where possible, that local CAMRA operations are run as professionally as possible.

I have also been away a bit, but nowhere exciting. I've had crap cask ale in the only real ale joint in Dumbarton, JDW's Captain James Lang, where knackered beer was sold or rather not being sold to an uncaring Tennents Lager drinking brigade, leaving me to very much give up and switch to bottled Morretti which is a rather nicer lager than Tennents.  To be fair to JDW,  I also spent an afternoon with an old friend in neighbouring Helensburgh, where the local Spoons there, the Henry Bell supplied me with excellent cask and added a smile or two when serving, which also helps.  Another thing that helps there is the large number of Royal Navy types from the Clyde Submarine Base, mostly English, who keep the beer turning over nicely.  Both points illustrate that old quality thing again. What are you going to drink? Tired out cask beer or fresh Morretti?  I know the answer.

I also had excellent beer in the JDW Counting House in Glasgow, a vast barn of a pub which was chokka at 11.30 in the morning and one on which I'd almost given up on quality wise. Bet they have a new cask loving manager - that's usually what perks a JDW up.  On Rob Pickering's advice I also nipped into The Vale, where a perfect pint of Fyne Ales Avalanche was much more enjoyable than a typical Glasgow pub, atypically festooned with TVs all tuned to a different sports channel, while inside not a word was being spoken, as everyone gawped at these silent conversation killers. I'm guessing as it is directly opposite the Dundas St entrance to Queen St station, that it gets customers whatever. On this point I'll add, not getting engaged in conversation in a Glasgow pub is pretty near impossible.

In between times we sold out of beer at Rochdale Beer Festival and good it was too, despite the unseasonably warm weather that had vented beers going off like rockets, with fountains of beer everywhere. The answer to this though is not a soft spile and the beer turned out very well in the end. Manchester Beer and Cider Festival is also taking up a fair amount of time, but trust me, that will be worth it.

Lastly I attended the excellent British Guild of Beer Writers do in London last week.  I'd never heard of half the winners which means I need to read more about beer obviously, though I wouldn't have previously thought so. Things clearly move on quickly beer writing wise as in everything else.

And no, I didn't win anything.

This was my entry for the Beer and Travel section.  I thought you'd like to read it as we near the festive season.


Fred Smith said...

As a seasoned budget drinker - OK a JDW punter - I concur that the single biggest factor in whether or not a branch's ales are "on form" is whether or not the said branch has a manager or an undermanager who actually cares about their ales.

The fact is that in some branches, an undermanager taking a couple of weeks on annual leave renders the ale undrinkable ; and within a couple of days of his return, the ales in said branch are back to their usual high standards.

Barm said...

Sorry that you didn’t like the Vale. It is a busy, sport-oriented pub and not for everyone. One of the things there’s not enough of in Glasgow is real ale being sold in pubs just like this, which is why we consider it one of the success stories of the last couple of years.