View Full Version : Tandleman's Beer Blog - Quality versus Quantity

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24-08-2016, 12:28
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Readers of this blog and others will know that there is, knocking about and turning up like a bad smell, an irksome commentator called "py". He spouts lots of anonymous inane comments to the extent that he has got himself barred from commenting here and there - but not here as it happens. I generally prefer to just give him it on the chin as required, rather than ban him, but I can see the point of those that do. However every dog has its day and occasionally, inadvertently really, a vexatious litigant can make a point that if you dissect it a little, may contain a grain of truth. He says in a thread about the poor quality of cask beer/real ale in London:

py said...
Its by no means just a London thing. Wherever CAMRA is, then warm beer follows. Go to any CAMRA summer beer festival, the beer is always served as warm as day old piss. You wonder why its the foreign beer bar that always runs out first?

Deny it all you like, reply with some pointless childish insult if that is really the best you can think of, but CAMRA have done more than anyone over the years to damage the quality of cask ale.

21 August 2016 at 22:01

Now clearly much of that is nonsense, but while the writer doesn't expand his "thoughts", is there just a smidgenhttps://3.bp.blogspot.com/-zeMFEzI1HwU/V72DlakV6lI/AAAAAAAAGlQ/AUqrG4UBCggn_185W2Ar12_2xlLGGFxYACLcB/s1600/focus.jpg (https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-zeMFEzI1HwU/V72DlakV6lI/AAAAAAAAGlQ/AUqrG4UBCggn_185W2Ar12_2xlLGGFxYACLcB/s1600/focus.jpg) of what might pass for a reasonable comment there? Well, let's take his point about summer beer festivals. My branch simply wouldn't run one for the very reasons stated. That is, the danger of beer being as described. Fortunately in Greater Manchester we have always had a heightened view of cask conditioning and beer presentation. We have strengthened that further, with our own cellar experts, who have developed cooling suited to the needs of smaller festivals. It may not be a complete answer, but I must agree that uncooled beer, in the height of summer is a very unwise business, could bring CAMRA into disrepute and my advice to CAMRA Festivals is "Unless you can guarantee the quality of the beer - don't do it." The reputational risk is just not worth it. This advice should be followed not just by CAMRA beer festivals, but by all that sell real ale. If you can't provide top quality cask beer, just don't do it.

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-9AOCjaab6UU/V72C3v-csdI/AAAAAAAAGlM/a58-cg5U3KA4dZ3oc1QVEwhbCnqU7rgQgCLcB/s200/quality.jpg (https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-9AOCjaab6UU/V72C3v-csdI/AAAAAAAAGlM/a58-cg5U3KA4dZ3oc1QVEwhbCnqU7rgQgCLcB/s1600/quality.jpg)
On a second point, Why do so many pubs insist in having a large number of below par beers on sale rather than two or three in top condition? Has CAMRA unwittingly made them think it is the only way to get in the Good Beer Guide? There is some evidence to suggest that might be the case, with the number of single or two beer pubs in the GBG diminishing severely. The current Good Beer Guide, somewhat astonishingly, shows only two such pubs out of 21 pages in Greater Manchester's entries. And even though we know in this area how to look after beer, can this really be wise? Of course I know that sensible pubs will cut their ranges down at quiet periods, but are we in CAMRA encouraging, or at least not discouraging enough, this quantity over quality concern? On a brief look at this area, it kind of looks like it. (The number of 3 beer pubs isn't that high either with "Beer range varies" being very common).

In the continual search for quality at the point of dispense, things such as cellar skills, venting practice, temperature and more are all at the top of the list, but when CAMRA looks to implement my motion bringing the quality of beer at the point of dispense into its Key Camapaigns, I reckon we need to include strong advice to pubs that too many beers on at the wrong time is just as bad for beer quality as some other more obvious faults.

Although he is unable to express it without giving offence, it may be that py has a case to argue.

I know from my own experience that persuading landlords of this isn't easy though and yes, I think sometimes the triumph of choice over quality can be partially at least, placed at the door of CAMRA members voting for Good Beer Guide entries.

There needs to be sufficient process safeguards to challenge this at meetings, though of course, a lot of this stems from the pubs presenting too many beers in the first place.

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