Tuesday, 13 January 2009


A visit to a pub last night resulted in me drinking 3 very nice beers: Timothy Taylor Landlord, Hawkshead Bitter and Yates Bitter. There was also Jennings Cumberland available, another golden brown bitter. I preferred the Yates, personally, because it seemed a little less sweet compared to the other two I tried - it had a hop dryness that I like, although normally, I also find Yates too sweet as well.

This leads me to a couple of observations that I would like to make. Firstly, why did the pub in question have four, albeit very nice and well kept, golden brown beers? There was nothing dark and malty, nothing stronger, no winter warmers. I would have liked to have seen something quite different. The second observation is that after drinking the Hawkshead and the Timmy Taylors I enjoyed the Yates a little more than usual. Was this because the beer has changed or is it to do with the order in which I drank them?

Jeff Pickthall questions his judgment on tasting beers, and here also. This both pleases and disturbs me at the same time. I cannot answer his legitimate question, and often find myself asking the same of myself. I consider Jeff to be more knowledgeable on the subject of beer flavour than myself, so if he feels he can't always trust his own judgment then I have no chance. But Jeff's uncertainty makes me more comfortable with my own doubts.

Ted is also struggling with this question. I know, as we've touched on it several times in conversation. In the link here Ted does talk more about a beer I brewed, so please forgive my gratuitous reference. I know that he questions the apparent widespread scathing about beer quality and taste. Mood and company, which of course are linked, previous consumption either of beverage or food and of course the particular batch of a beer will affect the taster's experience. The pub can also have an effect, such as the length of time the cask has been open or the line cleaning regime in play. Other factors can include the design of the pump clip, correct use of a sparkler or not depending on the consumer's choice and even perhaps the quality of service and ambiance.

It is perhaps unfair then for the large volume of apparent negativity in WEB2.0*. I have seen many comments on the Internet made about pubs and beers where I wondered what planet the appraiser was on. It strikes me that punters make the effort to comment when they have something they are aggrieved about. The bad experiences are the ones that motivates them to hit out some words on the keyboard and click that publish button. We rarely feel motivated to be nice. And here I am being grumpy about it, just the thing Ted is trying to avoid, bringing in negativity, which is exactly what I'm being grumpy about.

But, wait. This is all good. This is freedom of speech at its best. This is a channel of communication that is open to all. If the information isn't to your liking then you can click elsewhere. If you really disagree then you can engage with it and put your point across; although sometimes it can take forethought to avoid appearing to be a pillock or a numpty and quite often both.

So here I can grumble about the fact that there was no winter warmer available last night. I can also explore my own journey thought the mighty world of beer tasting and share my thoughts with the reader. Best of all, this virtual world, one that is free from the publishing constraints of corporation funded advertising, is discussing many great things about the diverse and growing world of interesting beer.

*WEB2.0 is user generated content. You are reading an example of it. http://www.beerintheevening.com , http://www.ratebeer.com are also examples.

I hope this doesn't undermine Ted's own unpublished posts. Go on Ted, be grumpy about people being grumpy, I'm eager to hear your views.


Tandleman said...

I always praise good beer and always say when I found a beer bad. I do trust my own taste buds, but of course sometimes it is difficult to pick out what is is you aren't comfortable with or indeed are. And of course, put simply, we don't all like the same things.

I do agree with disliking when a pub has four beers all broadly similar. That to me is lazy and thoughtless innkeeping

Alistair Reece said...

If I have a bad beer in a pub, I try to make a point of having the same beer in another pub to see whether it was the beer or the pub which was to blame.

Unknown said...

I have always found the comments from you two fine gentlemen to be balanced and constructive.

Trying beers more than once is a good idea on several levels.

Tim said...

I have been careful on my blog to not really vex too much opinion on a beer unless it is really overrated (as in Belgian beers), or it's just rubbish (as in Marston's beers). I have deliberately given up trying to intellectualize drinking beer and comment more about the circumstances it was enjoyed. In general, I would prefer to drink a mediocre pint in a lively venue than a top notch pint in a boring drinking factory style pub. The experience influences the beer just as much as the flavour or condition of the beer itself.

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

I do plan to bring one those posts to the surface. I'm just trying to get the tone right.

It will most certainly contain the words "Bridgeport", "Portland" and "cask".

And maybe "integrity" and "shame on you".