ALE Spring 2002 No. 305

Letters 1 - All Bad?

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All bad? Just most of it...

Dear Sir,
May I offer the following comments to your letter in ALE 304 "Beer in Cambridge: All Bad?"

No, it's not all bad, just most of it. There are still a few pubs left in Cambridge and suburbs where the landlord/publican knows how to store and serve beer. However, such a pub is hard to find.

I came to Cambridge in 1965 and adopted Greene King's Abbot as my favourite beer; let's talk about this in particular. You know as soon as you put the pint to your lips if it is going to be good or not. Breathe in the aroma through your nose and the smell tells you if it going to be right, and nine times out of ten it's not. If it doesn't have that certain smell there's no point in drinking it. Yet if you dare to refuse it you are treated with so much contempt.

I know of only one pub in Cambridge where the landlord will sample the first pint of the session for himself before deciding whether or not to serve it up for his customers.

I once visited a pub in Yorkshire, where Abbot was the guest beer. I ordered a pint and it tasted like a mixture of paraffin and TCP. When I complained to the landlord he told me "You have to know what you're drinking with Abbot, it's a specialised ale." I pointed out that I had been drinking nothing but Abbot for over 30 years, but this made absolutely no impression on him.

I used to drink in a pub in Shelford and the landlord would immediately ask for my opinion in anyone complained about his Abbot. Fortunately most of the time it was alright otherwise I would not have drunk there. Mr Paterson in his letter asks whether there is any other service where the quality of the good is poor. I wonder how many pubs he has eaten in. I have just returned from a family meal in a pub where the steak and Guinness pie did not have a trace of Guinness, the "seasonal vegetables" were carrots and peas, the chips were made from reconstituted mash potatoes, all served on a cold plate. If you are going to have a rotten pint you may as well have a bad meal to go with it, seems to be the attitude of some pubs. My advice is to find yourself a pub where you know that service matters and leave the rest to fall by the wayside; they're closing at an alarming rate so things will inevitable improve.

R Senior

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