TOO MANY BEERS !

I’ve been commenting on the impact of very large beer ranges on quality since the start of this blog, and this post by  Pub Curmudgeon also tackled some of the realities of choice, a thread entertainingly developed in the comments.

My immediate reaction to the assertion that most pubs had a dozen beers of varying styles was to test ridicule that proposition; most pubs I visit don’t seem to me to have much different a cask range to 20 years ago.  The keg and can ranges may be different, but I never go for those and I’m not sure who does.

In contrast, Newcastle (and Sunderland in its Head of Steam outlets) stood out for how many beers they’d squeezed on the bar, in addition to a fair few craft keg taps. Some times I found the beer as good as ever (e.g. the Free Trade), sometimes a little less so (e.g. Bacchus).

Quality concerns apart, the other niggle I have is just how hard it is to pick a beer in a pub now, even when a sympathetic barperson gives you a few seconds to digest a mass of pumps and taps that you’ve probably never seen before. Nearly every pub in Newcastle brought a completely new range (and no well known ones like Workie Ticket either).

That was big-city choice; the choice below was in a small-town backstreet pub, not a big city ale shrine.

 

Name all 12 (not really)

 

Perhaps it’s old age. Presumably younger professional drinkers can survey the dozen casks, assessing reputation/strength/quality in one second, then judging whether the 15 draft ciders or craft keg are a better bet in the next. Before I’d even reached the bar I’d been asked what I wanted, which is no doubt why so many people end up saying “San Miguel“.

On reflection, there’s a few beers the average drinker will have heard of (OK then, Butty Bach). Given six  seconds to weight it up, I’d have gone for the Salopian; instead I hurriedly pointed at the Portobello APA.  It was a decent beer, GBG quality, and a vast improvement on the pints of it I’ve had in London over the years.

The pub is busy and attracts a varied crowd, but I’d be amazed if it sells enough to present those twelve beers, and those breweries, at their very best. Less is usually more.

I’m sure someone can work out the pub; there can’t be many Coach & Horses. Just to be clear it’s a good local pub selling good beers, just too many of them for my liking.

55 thoughts on “TOO MANY BEERS !

  1. You’ve really made me rethink this over the last year. I think you are spot on. You can have too many taps. I hate to admit it, but I bought into the choice thing for a long time. Coming from the states it felt like a carnival to sit and drink 12 different cask ales. The last couple of trips have brought me around to your point of view. Too many taps can definitely lead to tired beers. The saddest part though is how often the range is limited. Four pale ales is too many; 12 is overkill.

    Like

  2. I hate being rushed into choosing a beer by an impatient bar-person, particularly when faced by a forest of hand-pulls all sporting clips advertising unfamiliar beers or breweries (often both). My eyesight isn’t what it used to be, which makes squinting along a long row of pump-clips, rather difficult. I’ve also long been of the opinion that too much choice paradoxically means less choice; large supermarkets are a good example of this.

    These arguments aside, quality has to be the over-rising factor. Some pubs, (a smaller number than one might think), can shift upwards of a dozen beers and keep them all in good form. My visit last weekend to the Fat Cat in Norwich was proof of this. The pub was packed, but its Tardis-like interior was quite capable of accommodating all those present.

    Totally wet-led pubs like the Fat Cat though are few and far between, and I do feel some landlords are simply trying to outdo each other when it comes to seeing which pub can boast the most beers.

    Like

  3. According to WhatPub, there are 129 Coaches & Horses. I choose Wellingborough. Dave and I loved the Fat Cat. We actually had a beer that had turned; they replaced it immediately. It was very busy on one of the two nights we visited.

    Like

    1. Almost an anti-clue Malcolm. This town is the Crewe of the Midlands. They were proper taps too, not those tatty cardboard boxes. If you’d seen the range in the Fat Cat you wouldn’t have bern surprised.

      Like

      1. Surely Crewe is in the ( North ) Midlands, or is it the gateway to the North West?
        It is important do me to know, as I live only 8 miles from Crewe.
        It is a seriously depressing place, with the speed of the train service and two decent pubs the only positive features I can bring to mind.
        The roads are frequently clogged with people trying to escape and the town centre could do with flattening and starting again.
        If HS2 happens it might just be the town’s saviour.

        Like

  4. When i do a pub crawl i always write down the real ales on the bar,which is usually no more than four,i went in a pub in early October with my brother and to our surprise there were 26 hand pumps on the bar,i was then very unsure what to have to drink,my brother went round to the other side of the bar where the other 13 pumps were and said all were different beers with 6 being ciders,how many did i write down from that lot! well the one i had to drink and no more.

    On this question about where the pub is,i always thought Derby was the Crewe of the Midlands,i have been in all of the Coach and Horses in the area but none match that one.

    Like

  5. Crewe is a town with a large railway station which is on a large rail junction,so all trains go from Crewe,
    Derby as a smaller railway station and a smaller rail junction,but both are similar in being dumps,though i would take Crewe over Derby any day.
    I only use the word Derby when doing reviews or posting comments on blogs,my wife and i always use the word Scum for it.

    Like

    1. For those of us still getting used to the nomenclature of UK locations, where does Scum fall on the dump/shithole/scum number line? And what is on the other end of the spectrum?

      Like

      1. Hopefully Tom Irvin will rejoin the debate. For my own part, I reckon nowhere in England is without considerable merits. If you look at one of the main guides for foreign visitors (Rough Guide/Lonely Planet) you won’t find Nuneaton, Mansfield or Burton, for example, but I love them all.

        Like

      2. Scum is more a description of the people who live in a place rather than the place itself. It is essentially a more polite way of abusing the people of a town.

        I’m afraid that Crewe is on the precipice of joining the massed ranks of English towns, predominantly inland ones, that have lost their purpose. The railway works is a shadow of its former self and has declined further even than Derby, the depots are much reduced and the station is of reduced importance, partly down to the decline of Holyhead and the Welsh political desire to keep themselves to themselves. Derby is relatively prosperous and has both a good Gurka curry house and a decent pizza shack, neither of which I have found in Crewe. Or Nottingham for that matter, not that I have really tried there.

        Like

    2. Keep in mind as you answer that if you street view my town it will out dump, out shithole and out scum any place you want to throw up against it. We do not even have a downtown. You are welcome to visit, but I cannot see why you would want to do so.

      Like

      1. The Wire. Best show we ever did. And no we don’t live on the Prairie or streets of Baltimore. We wouldn’t last long in either place. My pub is the Town Hall Brewery in Mpls or the Town Hall Tap. Although they are adding a new one in walking distance of my home. Not sure that’s a good idea for my health.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If you street view the THB, make sure you do the view from the Washington Street Bridge over 35W. Looking east. You get some fine street art. Not everywhere can claim the Lovepower Church.

        Like

      3. I live in Hanover Park(Time Magazine 1995: “A drug-infested suburb of Chicago.”). We have no pubs worth looking into. Dave lives in Minneapolis(House on the Prairie compared to where I live.) The Town Hall is well worth visiting, and I have.

        Like

    3. By the way Alan, I’m borrowing the wife’s computer (which is why these posts read so slow at the moment) and can’t add comment to your latest post, though I have publicised it on Twitter. Great piece on load of rural Fenland Wisbech pubs I bet no-one else has ever reviewed on the internet.

      Like

      1. Yes you are about right with that Martin,
        It is not the most visited area of England,but i love it there and especially doing the Elgoods tied houses,i am planning another visit down there with my brother to pick up the remaining pubs in the area we have not yet done.
        Many thanks for adding to Twitter as it helps my viewing figures.

        Like

      2. Alan, I have always been curious what the Fens are like after reading a novel set in that area. What are you favorite villages and towns? Dave

        Like

  6. Isn’t it more the case that Wellingborough (pop. 50,000) can sustain one multi-beer pub than that’s the range you would find going in any random pub in Wellingborough? There are several beer-focused pubs and bars in Macclesfield which is a similar size. Never actually been to Wellingborough, apart from passing through on the train, and probably unlikely to in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your logic is sound, but Wellingborough is more Wythenshawe than Macclesfield. There was no-one drinking those beers at 5pm on Saturday. That might be because two newish micros have taken the real ale custom.

      Like

      1. Wellingborough is not like Wythenshawe one bit,ive done all pubs in Wythenshawe which is a massive council estate and did all but four pubs in Wellingborough on the 21st June 2014,i did 21 pubs in the town and found 7 with no real ales on and four with more than four real ales,Coach and Horses came out top with 12 and the Red Well Wetherspoons second,the Locomotive was third with 6 real ales on.
        I now presume that the Coach and Horses featured at the top of this post is the one in Wellingborough.
        There were no micros when i went there so they must have opened in the last two years.

        Like

      2. You’re entirely right Alan. I only picked Wythenshawe as it also started with a W, Mudge would be very familiar with it, and I doubt there’s many real ale drinkers there. I’d very much like to read your reports on those two places. I’ve got a post on W’boro coming up.

        Like

  7. Dave,
    The Fens are very flat with loads of man made dikes to drain the land,Gedney Hill which features on my latest post about Elgoods pubs in no more than 12 feet above sea level and is classed as an hill.
    Wisbech is what i would consider the main town in the Fens and is home to Elgoods brewery,i have also done pubs crawls in March which i quite liked,Spalding another nice town,Downham Market is also a nice small town,i have also done Ely with my wife and it has a really nice cathedral.
    On our travels around Wisbech i liked the look of the villages to the South of it,Elm and Friday Bridge looked quite nice.
    It is not very good for public transport,but March and Ely have a decent rail service and Spalding has got a train station.

    Like

      1. It just seems like such an unusual area to visit. The lack of GBG pubs has limited it’s appeal. I do like the look of Whittlesey which seems like it could be a good base for the area. Four GBG pubs in the town this year.

        Like

      2. I can see the appeal of visiting all the pubs in a town like Alan does. Just visiting Beer Guide places might give you a very middle-class impression of a town !

        The time to visit Whittlesey in mid-January for the StrawBear Festival – look it up !

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s