Some really great writing about pubs on the blog recently. Mudgie (here) explored the falsehood that one buzzy new micro can be compensation for losing a handful of proper locals, while BRAPA (here) is drinking 30 pints on the Isle of Man and no doubt flies home to a hero’s welcome from Public Health England.
Best of all is Kirsty Walker‘s take on Bradley Cumming’s pitch for (yawn) CAMRA revitalisation (here), which is all you really need to read on the subject.
Amongst Kirsty’s issues, she highlights this gem in Bradley’s manifesto,
“We should stop supporting pubs selling poor quality (or no) real ale, a result of our determination to halt the closure of pubs”
noting that a lot of pubs serving beer below Beer Guide standard would still get scored as NBSS 2 (beer served competently kept and drinkable). Drinkable, but hardly likely to inspire conversion to real ale, if that matters.
Of course, there are plenty of pubs with no real ale at all that are still valuable to their communities, as Kirsty found out on her Runcorn stagger and any trip to Levenshulme would confirm.
Most beer I drink in Guide pubs is NBSS 3 or better, demonstrating the reliability of the GBG. And many times when I step outside the Guide, the scores drop too.
On the second of three visits in a week to Little Downham in the Fens, I found the archetypal NBSS 2 pint.
A pleasingly flat hour’s walk from Ely, Fen fans.
I’d wanted to visit the GBG Plough that I missed on my Pymoor Plod, but it was closed. Clearly it was, the GBG said it would be open (shut at 2).
The Anchor was defiantly open all day, providing accommodation for sadists, and cake and coffee for seniors.
A few village highlights for you first, from what is a typical medium-sized Fen village with a pleasing church and the cheapest tourist board in Christendom.
An eerily quiet High Street has the usual solid architecture and what looks like a Hipster Chippy but is nothing of the sort.
As always, there are lovingly maintained signs of the pubs that were murdered to accommodate increasing numbers of residents over the last century.
But at least there’s some great entertainment if you get here in March.
Anyway, the Anchor. At least I can now say I’ve visited and scored it on WhatPub, and no pub visit is without merit, even if you don’t like Robbie Williams on Smooth Radio.
Some of the local banter was clearly a warm-up for the “Are You Being Served” production. “Dear oh dear” (repeat) being the only one that would comply with current publication standards.
The Anchor is cheery, the hand pumps sparkle, and it offers four beers you’ve heard of. Most locals, and a few came in at 3pm, were drinking Doom and a Rose (not in the same glass, yet).
I worked on the assumption that you don’t stock Landlord lazily, in the way you do Doom or IPA, and the pint was well presented by Fen standards. Branded glasses too.
But as the head died it became a bit thin and dull, and the scum on the top of the pint wasn’t nice scum, if you know what I mean. With only Doom Bar selling these days, I wondered how much Landlord they’d be throwing away; then realised that they wouldn’t throw it away.
NBSS 2. You’d never take it back. You’d never have it again.
I felt a little short-changed at spending £4.20 for a dull pint of a great beer; the Italian or German tourist visiting Ely who dropped in would vow never to try our national beer again.
But is the answer really for CAMRA to encourage the many thousands of pubs serving NBSS 2 beer to drop cask ?