The quality of cask beer is under the spotlight again, with Martyn Cornell and Pub Curmudgeon both hitting the nail on the head in recent posts.  Beer served too early, kept on the bar for too long, with too many lines to guarantee fresh beer.  Particularly this summer.

Martyn finishes his article by reminding us of this truth;

CAMRA members  should STFU about how awful Doom Bar is.

Read the threads on CAMRA Discourse (no, don’t) and hear folk tell you they could never score Doom Bar higher than a 2 as it’s inherently rubbish beer.

Tell ’em, Brad.

“There’s nowt such thing as bad beer, it’s just they that keep it that spoil it” – Brad, The Furnace

And Doom Bar is capable of being an exceptional pint in the hands of someone who cares. Like in the Eclipse in Winchester this year.

An NBSS 4 doom Bar

Since then I’ve had superb beer from Banks’s, Wadworth, Greene King, Bass, and Sharp’s.  All those nasty boring Big Beer Brewers that folk on Discourse say can never be as excellent as beer made by the “independents“.

Well. they’re wrong.  Here’s more evidence for the Doom Bar defence.  From Sawbridgeworth.


It’s a posh commuter town between Harlow and Bishops Stortford, the Bramhall of the South if you like.

A town hitherto known for the multi-tap Gate, itself edged out in favour of the one pump Bull.  What’s going on ?

When I arrived it was raining. But the Bull looked inviting, and opened at 11.

That’s clear

Well, actually it was shut at 11.30, despite all evidence to the contrary.  But the Landlord (John) took pity and let me in anyway.

It’s a cracker. Mr Protz would love it.

Bobby Moore. At the door.

You can rely on a West Ham pub that doesn’t accept cards.

OK, some may find it a bit cluttered, but that never bothered the Yew Tree in Cauldon, to name but one gem.

Ignore scatter cushions
Authentic dangling pans
Fireplace operational soon

Actually, it’s nothing like the Yew Tree, but I struggle to come up with a genuine comparison.  Bet it’s something else when it’s full.

Instead, I had an assault on the senses from Detroit Spinners v Bargain Hunt v Racing UK. It was quite entertaining.

So was the bar.  Just one ale, London Pride, is promised in the Guide.  The glasses have been retained, but it’s Doom Bar or Stella now.

Some CAMRA branches write with pride (no pun) about crawls where they pop there head round the door, see “dull beers” and walk out.

Bar seemingly constructed of pound coins

I’ve no idea why they’ve switched from Pride to Doom.  But I’m glad they have. It was magnificent (first out of the pumps but pulled through). Cool, rich and complex, unlike any Doom I’ve had before.

NBSS 4.5

As Pub Curmudgeon noted, the best kept beers make you

“turn to your drinking companion and say “Taste this! This is what cask’s all about!” “

Sadly I had no-one to turn to, not even a pub cat.  So I told the Landlord on the way out.  He shrugged.



  1. It does seem that two beer drinkers with nearly identical tastes can come to entirely different conclusions about the same beer, depending on where they had it and how it was cared for. You must reach the point where you can only say, “I’m not a fan of that beer based on the times I’ve had it, but maybe that’s due to the way it was kept.”

    I love the door that says WAY IN. Is that a common sight? I’ve never seen such a thing, it’s delightful!


    1. Beer drinkers are not quite as objective as they would like to believe they are Mark. A lot of things affect how a beer tastes to you. How many you had prior to the beer you are drinking. What you ate before you drink the beer. I think people like to believe tasting is more objective than it actually is. Condition is one thing that I do think is a fairly objective observation though. The size of a brewer is an absurd reason to make a taste judgment. If we randomized tasting and used blindfolds, I think most of us would be severely challenged in our stated preferences.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Dave is correct. I keep a few different beers in my fridge partly because there are days my ‘fave’ just doesn’t seem to cut if for me. Temperature, time of day, what you just drank (what you just ate!); all of that and more can come into play.


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Model answer, Dave. 95/100. For the full marks you could have quoted the example of blind testing in 2004 when Greene King IPA was voted Best Bitter at the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival and several people walked out.

        There is indeed an absurdity about preferring tiny “independent” brewery beers, and then (for example) deciding you never really liked Bew Dog when they reach a certain level of popularity.

        Your point that condition is a fairly objective observation is a great one. I’d have been really interested in yours and Dick’s score for the beer in Worcester on Wednesday.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The walking out because you don’t like the result is really funny to me. At that point the beer means more than it should to you. You have a personal investment in it that is way too much. I wish we had been in Worcester. Love the town and those crawls look fun, but when we were there last I don’t think we had a single really stand out beer from a conditioning stand point. Loved the pubs though.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Well said.
    Doom Bar is far from my favourite beer but, yes, it can be “rich and complex” and I don’t mind calling occasionally at pubs near me where it’s the only cask beer.
    But it’s from a really big brewer an so one can read “I’d rather die of thirst than drink Doom Bar” on the Beer and Pubs Forum.
    Oh, and I had to look up what STFU stands for – such is the sheltered like I’ve lead !

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “Oh, and I had to look up what STFU stands for – such is the sheltered like I’ve lead !”

      There’s also the accompanying phrase; STFD (sit the eff down). 🙂


  3. I’ve often tried to work out the maximum hanging baskets per yard and the degree of clutter that should be allowed but I’ve decided any amount is permissable if there are only one or two excellent beers and pork pies are the only food item.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, but clutter can be interesting.
      I’ve only just noticed on the GUEST BEERS board two proper wooden cask taps. I’ve got, and have used, a wooden one and a Mann, Crossman and Paulin brass one.


  4. When the Tynemouth Lodge Hotel (33 years GBG) had Doom Bar on for a couple of years it was very popular. At least a week in the cellar before opening and every cask sold within two days helps. Not to my taste but it certainly had a richness to it that I’d never found before.

    I passed through Sawbridgeworth a couple of weeks ago on the train heading to Bishop’s Stortford – looks like a nice place.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t have time to linger in the area unfortunately as I was picking up a car I’d bought and needed to head home although with hindsight I’d have been better off waiting until later in the evening – M11/A14 etc! I’d forgotten just how busy the roads are daah sarf.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The issue is not that it can’t be a good beer, it’s the vanishingly small chance of finding a good pint of it. Even back when you had to travel to Cornwall to drink it, doombar was more often indifferent than distinctive. A beer the trade know can sell whether they put in the effort to care for it is a beer I’m not wasting capacity on for that rare exception. That’s not snobbery, it’s playing the odds and these devalued brands are rightly seen as distress purchases.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. When we pick microbrewery beers we’re still playing the odds, from the other side. There’s a powerful incentive to care properly for beers with low brand awareness in the general public and low availability if the supply chain wants to stay solvent. In a world dominated by drinkers and bar owners that don’t care, those of us that do are looking for signals to find each other, national=boring is just one of them!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Doom Bar often suffers from poor condition, probably just because it is nearly ubiquitous. In good nick, it can be just about bearable for me. It’s true about size of brewery being no measure of what the beer will be like. A good pint of 61 Deep or Pedigree can be a wonderful thing. Still not keen an pretty much anything from GK though: they all seem to have a house taste I don’t like.


    1. Yes, something which was reinforced when I tasted GK Vintage Fine Ale (6.5%) at GBBF – essentially concentrated essence of GK which left me thinking they just brew large amounts of basic beer and add a bit of the Strong stuff into it for flavour?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Mmmm – My notes say Pubcurmudgeon tried the Doom Bar in The Cricketers last week, looked at it, tried it again and said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with it, apart from it doesn’t taste of anything.’


  8. Ah, The Yew Tree at Cauldon: forget drinking beer you might as well be on acid! Makes the Olde Vic in Stockport look minimalist. I love a choice but any more than 4 handpubs in a regular sized pub and at least one of them will be indifferent at best.

    Liked by 1 person

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