As a fan of good cask ale, I read this article by Pete Brown* expecting to strongly disagree with it; but actually, I found that I agreed with pretty much every word. If you like a pint with your lunch, as I often do, our chances of a good drink are already reduced, unless you can guess which hand pull has already been used that lunchtime.
I was recently disappointed in one of Wolverhampton CAMRA branch’s past pubs of the year. I made the mistake of having Holden’s Special: later it became clear that Golden Glow was the popular drink that lunchtime. My pint wasn’t bad enough to take back with full confidence: it just wasn’t as good as it could and should have been.
The growth in real ale choice over the last two decades is impressive, but too many pubs now put too many beers on their bars: and sometimes all “golden” ales. They can’t sell it quickly enough. No wonder people are put off what for me is still the champagne presentation style of beer, in favour of craft beers – the prosecco of beers to conclude my sparkling wine analogy. Craft beers can be good, though they can also be too cold and too fizzy; but certainly they are a lot more reliable and enjoyable than a cask-conditioned ale sold by staff not monitoring the quality of what they sell.
The Campaign for Real Ale has just conducted extensive research into what its future should be. I hope, for those of us who appreciate a cask-conditioned ale in top condition, that they concentrate less on how many guest beers are available and more on the quality of what is being sold.
Pete Brown: why it’s time to say no to bad cask ale
Beer writer Pete Brown explains why he has turned his back on the drink he has obsessed over for many years.
Roger Protz, the editor of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide, has written a response to Pete Brown’s article which is fair and reasoned, but I think Roger must be luckier than me with his recent drinking experiences:
Postscript 9th February 2017
Just read this fascinating blog post where a brewer explains that perhaps we are not paying enough for cask ale. Which makes me wonder; if we paid a little more, could we expect more in terms of quality?