I've recently been out and about doing some 'investigative research' and enjoying a few nice beer in some of Glasgow's better bars.
One beer that I've 'researched' more than others recently is a new offering from one of my favourite Scottish breweries, Fyne Ales. It's their West Highland Black IPA (WHBIPA) and for the past few weeks it's been making an appearance in The Three Judges, The Bon Accord, The State Bar and The Laurieston.
As you'd expect from Fyne Ales, it's a well made, tasty beer from a brewery with a reputation for crafting well made, tasty beers. However, what has struck me, imbibing this beer in four different establishments in just over a week, is that how much of a difference cellarmanship and correctly looking after the beer once it has hit the pub can make to the taste, aroma, flavour and overall enjoyment of the beer.
Some of WHBIPA I've sampled has been simply out of this world. The State Bar, for example, presented a stunning and well looked after, fantastic example of this beer. It was full of intense hop nose and creamy roast malt served at a temperature that allowed each of the flavours in the beer to be savoured and enjoyed in a beautifully balanced pint.
In another pub, the beer was served too warm and from the condition of the beer, I got the impression that it had not been cellared long enough for the beer to settle. In context, it was the first pint of the day poured in this pub and it may have not been pulled through the line thoroughly enough. In another, it was too cold and this masked some of the more subtle flavours of the beer.
It got me thinking.
How many times has beer left breweries in great nick only for it to be let down at the final hurdle in the pub due to it not sitting long enough, being poorly conditioned, badly poured or served as if it was a cold lager or tepid mug of bovril?
My favourite drink is getting too expensive these days to be playing beery Russian Roulette with my next pint not knowing whether it will be in awesome, awful or just alright condition. I know the Cask Marque system of accreditation exists as an indicator of a pub that serves well kept beer and the nature of beer as a living product means that it will change in the cask but sometimes there's no excuse for sloppy cellarcraft in some pubs.
Is it too much to ask that if pubs are selling Real Ale they concentrate on getting the basics right first?