One of the themes of my blog (along with “Avoid Maidenhead“) is that the explosion of choice is rarely beneficial to quality. One of the best pints I’ve had in recent weeks was in a tourist-driven Spoons that had a minimal, but quality, cask range.
The argument for heading for pubs with many pumps seems to be that anyone who cares about cask would have at least half a dozen on, to which
CAMRA members cask drinkers will gravitate, leaving the local bar with Doom Bar and GK IPA (provided on sufferance) to serve soup to Carling drinkers.
And reading CAMRA magazines it’s hard not to be persuaded that more is better, with Pub News focusing on quantity and rarity, with quality barely mentioned. Which made the local Pub of the Year award for Stockport’s Boar’s Head in 2016 so welcome.
Early micropubs had a formulaic 3 beers at £3, ensuring quick turnover. Increasingly the newer ones seem to have half a dozen beers and half a dozen flavoured ciders, which is quite a challenge to flog within 3 days when you only open 4 till 10 five days a week and seat a dozen boozers.
But I’m happy to be proved wrong, and Cambridge has a couple of classic pubs that can support an ambitious range.
While stuck in Cambridge waiting for GBG18 to be launched, we confirmed the peerless quality of the Cambridge Blue, about which I can never say enough.
The Blue had it’s usual bewildering choice on. So bewildering that a couple of foreign language students ended up drinking the German lager having been offered tasters of three ales. You’ll know my views on tasters.
Giving the Evil Keg a rest, Mrs RM rated the 3 Blind Mice Juice Rocket highly, before polishing off most of my Dark Star Pale (NBSS 4.5). Even the Wherry was pretty good.
A new menu was being tested, and as is obligatory here’s what the risotto, linguini and burger look like. Simple, fresh, and with quality ingredients, they were the pub food of the year by some distance.
You’ve seen the Bass breweriana, so here’s some Butterkist popcorn. And a Bass mirror.
Still the exemplar pub, one of my Top 5 (but what are the other 4).
A few days later we somehow ended up in the Maypole, another of my Cambridge bankers for quality, and a pub transformed since its days as a solid Pubmaster local.
Seemingly full of rich students seeing who could drink the strongest beer (don’t knock it, you were young once), it’s not a cheap night out, but only in Sam Smiths will you get quality for £2 a pint.
The nice man did me a pint of the Kees West Coast IPA. I hid in the bar and drank it so Mrs RM couldn’t steal it and say it tasted like Brew Dog.
She’d seen the Three Blind Mice (them again) though. Dick and Dave will appreciate the pump clip.
The cask was nearly as cool as the keg, clearly selling well enough, and washed down the inevitable salt and pepper squid.
Two great nights in Cambridge. It can be done.