Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Dreary beers

It’s as well to take advantage of what remains of the summer, so I met a friend for a weeknight pint.

Blackfriars was busy as usual, even though it was a Monday night. But something wasn’t right. Someone nabbed the last table while I was at the bar, and even the BrewDog Trashy Blonde wasn’t spectacular. We decided to move off somewhere else. Alas, this proved in retrospect a mistake.

We passed the Ingram Bar and looked in. Still only Greene King IPA on sale. Much quieter than Blackfriars with just half a dozen or so customers. The pub is up for let. No bloody wonder. We didn’t stay for a pint.

If the Ingram was quiet, The Auctioneers just around the corner was deserted. The single beer on offer was Marston’s EPA. Oh well, it gives me a chance to try the revolutionary Fast Cask technology. Marston’s can’t be too bothered about convincing people of Fast Cask. EPA is shit to begin with and remains so in any format. Slight mineraliness and the odd creamy blandness found in under-hopped beer. Is Fast Cask to blame? I don’t think so.

The Auctioneers is an odd place. When I entered my first impression was that it was like Wetherspoons, but without the smell of vinegary chips. After a while I decided that it was more like the awful plastic pubs you get grafted onto motorway hotels. I think it was the proliferation of menus, TV screens and lurid posters, half of which promoted cut-price drinks and the other half sensible drinking. It’s probably bouncing on a Friday night, but seemed rather sad on a Monday evening.

A couple of blocks westward we reach the Drum & Monkey, a Nicholson’s pub. The chain has made a recognisable effort to improve its cask beer offering, and the pub now has five handpumps. But oh dear, the beers on sale: Caledonian 80 and Deuchars IPA, Fullers Summer Ale, Brains bitter and St Austell Tribute; perhaps we got them on an bad night. The Fullers beer was somewhat grainy and just blah; Brains a fair bit better with slight traces of malt and hops discernible; Tribute had an intriguing citrussy lemon-meringue-pie nose, but failed to live up to expectations.

Why are so many beers so dull?

Is it me? Am I too picky?

Perhaps I was just in a bad mood. But shouldn’t going to the pub cheer you up?


  1. Im a big fan of Tribute, and Deuchars has it's moments.

  2. I guess its a combination of things. Its in breweries interests to produce dull beer because its cheaper to produce. The same breweries monopolise both the tied and free trade because they can sell their mass and cheaply produced product more cheaply than more discerning smaller brewers. Bit of a catch 22 really. I've more or less stopped trying out pubs without some research of what will be on offer these days. Sad really.

  3. Well the opposite of what Ed says really. Both are dull.

    I'd have thought cask ale on a Monday night in Glasgow likely to be unrewarding. It likely is most places when you are likely to get the weekend's tired leftovers.

  4. I used to have the same sense of beer angst in Prague when I would go into one of my favourite pubs and be assaulted with a choice of 5 pale lagers and 1 weizen on draft or trawling through the multitudes of bottled choices. At such times I just asked the staff to bring me some, anything, and usually they sensed I wanted something other than pale lager and delivered the goods.