I recommend you start the day with Pub Curmudgeon’s new post on beer quality. It’s a great summary of a complex issue, and a reminder of how easy it is for cask to lose ground on the bar, even when served competently. Mrs RM has converted to the higher strength KeyKeg and keg craft on our own crawls, and often I can’t blame her.
Beer quality over the last year has actually been very consistent in my experience around the country. I’ve even had good beer (NBSS 3 or above) in London. The number of very good pints, the sort where you go “ooh, that’s good” is probably 1 in 10 though. And that’s exclusively Beer Guide pubs.
Over the next month or so CAMRA Branches will be selecting their pubs for the 2018 Beer Guide. This is a solemn task, to be undertaken over the last pint of Cloudwater. I commend them for picking on the basis of beer quality alone. In contrast to Pete Brown’s considered piece yesterday, I’ve only had to take one pint back in the last year.
Now, folk don’t go in pubs just for the real ale, or any beer of course. It’s hard to see coachloads of beer tickers heading for Seven Red Roses in Lower Earley.
As I walked from Earley station in light drizzle, I had a sudden feeling of having been here before, and started to consult WhatPub under cover of bus stops to see if the Roses was just a rebranding of the Maiden Over, a very similar sounding estate pub. But that was closed, which is sad but symptomatic.
The Roses doesn’t have the character that pub did, but does feature a unique upward method of dispense;
Only Doom Bar on tap then, and “Cash Only” signs aren’t normally indicators of good health, but at least the Magners sales were holding up on a Monday lunchtime.
And the Doom Bar was decent enough too. On Friday night it might have been even better.
I’ve had similar experiences of good beer in unlikely surroundings in nearby Theale and Tilehurst recently.
I always try to acknowledge CAMRA branches who pick unlikely looking basic pubs for the Guide. It takes good chairmanship to pick a Hungry Horse or one-bar local for GBG status over an inconsistent free house. Reading/Mid-Berks CAMRA are flagbearers for Quality First.