You left me in Anstruther with a tummy full of chips and GBG-pub coke and 20 minutes till the bus back to St Andrews.

Could I find any real ale in the Boathouse “Beer & Wine Bar”.

Yes, three of them.  They could surely have lent one of those barrels to the Ship.

That’s right – hide the Ghost Ship

This is a boisterous modernised diner with at least a bit of trade on a sunny Sunday.  None of it is drinking cask, of course.

Irn Bru balancing act the highlight

Despite the assurance of a Cask Marque sticker (hah) I know the Otter doesn’t like 6 hour journeys so I went for the Norsemanfrom down the road.

“Hopped with Citra”

I know that it’s important to have a gazillion tiny breweries, none of whom accept external investment or do nasty things like develop pub stock. But I do wonder if brewers like Redcastle ever get to taste their own beer on the bar, served as a dull, lukewarm, frothy nothingness (NBSS 1.5).  Not so bad you’d ever return it, oh no, just dull.

Not a branded glass,then

Usual result…

Getting tiring

Anyone who thinks I’m just an old fusspot with unrealistic expectations is a) Probably right and b) In need of a trip out of their reliable specialist ale house into the real world.

A bumpy ride back to St Andrews, but at least I hadn’t mixed the coke with coffee, a fatal combination.

With 20 minutes to spare before the connection to Cupar, I popped into St Andrews Brewing’s second outlet.

It just serves keg, so there’s not much interest in it in the CAMRA AGM Handbook.

Watford v Wolves pulls in the crowd

I don’t know what St Andrews students do on a Sunday afternoon, perhaps study Latin or put their NBSS scores into WhatPub, but the shiny keg outlet was a bit deserted.

Shiny taps

The Watford v Wolves semi playing to no-one, two lads confused by the lack of Tennents, and more TV screens than customers and staff combined.

Nice glass

In their first bar, they only served thirds and schooners; here they only served halves and pints.  Crazy.

But their IPA was cool, not over-carbonated and tasty.

Expel me now, CAMRA.





  1. What do you expect for a beer “Manufactured in Carmyllie” or wherever ?
    For as long as I can remember beer has been BREWED.
    ‘Made’ is bad enough but ‘Manufactured’ !!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I may well be having a pint of keg Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted later on and very nice it will be. Then again.I let my CAMRA membership lapse, so I’m allowed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Despite your findings there are CAMRA members who would argue Black was White in the ‘Cask ale’ v Keg’ argument, and state firmly that your mediocre pint of cask was still better than a pint of the decent keg beer you tried ( I bet it will have been ‘real’ too with viable yeast (wonder where Marston’s fare in those stakes?)). That’s why CAMRA is becoming irrelevant, a bit like a Wolves v Watford FA Cup semi final (to anyone but a Wolves or a Watford fan).


    1. So is it all the arguing, such as what is and is not “mediocre” and what is and is not “decent”, that is making CAMRA irrelevant”?
      Sorry, but any football analogy is lost on me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a lack of interpretation as to the term Quality for me. I have sat in your company with others who would argue every cask beer MUST be better than every Keg beer. I think he said that the worst cask beer is better than the best keg beer any day. Martin’s findings in this post disprove this. I will explain the football bit in Rugby.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t know what you’re drinking, but the keg beers I drink aren’t artificially carbonated. That’s where the died in the wool Camrasaurs fall down, they still think keg beer is Watney’s Red Barrel. I doubt any have tried any decent keg beer.


      3. Yes they can be. My gripe is about all those who bang on about carbonation without understanding or tasting it. There will be people who think Brewdog is cutting edge craft, they aren’t. Like, you’ve never had a carbonated decent Imperial keg stout have you?

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I don’t recall it but maybe someone in my company did argue that every cask beer MUST be better than every Keg beer and that the worst cask beer is beer than the best keg beer any day. I doubt if there are many about that would argue that.
        Forty years ago, with large casks and before cellar cooling, a pint of cask could be worse than “mediocre” but CAMRA would have got absolutely nowhere if in such circumstances it had said ‘Never mind, let’s have a “decent” pint of ‘Draught’ Guinness instead’. No, CAMRA stuck to its principles and worked to improve the quality of less than satisfactory real ale without concerning itself about possibly acceptable alternative drinks.
        Where CAMRA has arguably gone wrong since then is concerning itself more about choice than quality.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Out of interest, how did CAMRA work to improve cask quality, Paul?

        Did they offer guidance to pubs or brewers on storage/cleaning lines/matching lines to custom etc in years past?


      6. Why would young beer lovers join CAMRA, bar the discounts. Genuine question. I bet they think there’s never been so much good beer, and I doubt they care about the death of the suburban boozer.

        They can meet up with professional Pub Men by coming on a Proper day out with us.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. “the keg beers I drink aren’t artificially carbonated” – but what do you mean by “artificially carbonated”?
        Pressurised is pressurised.


      8. How did CAMRA work to improve cask quality ?
        Yes, they offered guidance to pubs or brewers on storage/cleaning lines/matching lines to custom etc in years past, campaigned for cooling equipment to be provided by the brewer rather than paid for by the publican, encouraged brewers to supply Mild in firkins as well as kilderkins and everything else useful except advocating the use, where appropriate, of the cask breather.
        Then the emphasis shifted from quality to choice and the rest is history.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Richard,
        You’re as likely to “bang on about carbonation” as anyone else.
        ‘Live and let live’ is what I say.
        Some will choose “a carbonated decent Imperial keg stout”, others will choose a cask conditioned decent Imperial stout, ah, and I’ve still got a few bottles of Courage’s and Harvey’s Imperial Stout in the cupboard.


      10. Anyone else find that carbonated drinks cause headaches? Mrs. E says that even one small bottle of BrewDog can do it. She’s otherwise pretty tolerant.

        Champagne is famous for that too, I suppose.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Nope, of course a good pint of keg may be preferable to a poor pint of cask, but what CAMRA supposedly campaigns for is real ale. Likewise a nice drop of Sauvignon Blanc may also be preferable, but CAMRA doesn’t campaign for that either.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Why shouldn’t real ale be the only beer someone campaigns for? It doesn’t mean you don’t think anything else is worth drinking. If you’re a member of the Jane Austen Society it doesn’t mean to don’t think any other novelist is worth reading. The idea that any significant proportion of CAMRA members take that attitude is a complete canard.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. There seems to be two purposes to CAMRA. The surveying of pubs to produce an annual Good Beer Guide for Simon, Duncan and myself (a noble cause).

      And a drinking club based around a Beer Festival circuit that props up uncommercial homebrewers and keeps middle aged blokes out of the house.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Sams Stout is very good Stout IMO, I regularly drink it.

        I appreciate the efforts of CAMRA over the years, a good job has been done by all concerned. I just think we have lost our way a bit recently; failed to embrace change and a changing landscape and alienated ourselves from a lot of drinkers and brewers who just think CAMRA are a joke.

        I can only speak for my own branch, but Martin’s example the CAMRA man who told the landlady she would need more beers on to get in then GBG is the epitome of many members who go around speaking as if they had some authority. I doubt there is a branch anywhere who selects for GBG on the basis of numbers of real ales OTB? I have lost count of the times licensees and bar staff in Leeds have told me that CAMRA have done this, or said that – I just say, it’s news to me, I’m only the branch press officer and magazine editor! CAMRA desperately needs new, younger and more active members, instead of half pissed tossers who wander round pubs in town spouting rubbish.


      2. I’m sure that’s not official policy in Mid Wales or Kent or wherever, but I’ve been to a couple of branch meetings in the past (not Stockport or Cambridge), where the discussions are all range, and pub festivals, but rarely quality.

        And a quick look at my mountain of branch magazines will tell you what gets you a mention or write up. “The Nags Head has added a 4th pump for alternating Clodhop beers, and replaced Bass with something hoppy”.


      3. But who is going to tell “half pissed tossers who wander round pubs in town spouting rubbish” that they’re no longer welcome as members ?
        “CAMRA desperately needs new, younger and more active members” – yes, but it’s not going to happen because “younger” drinkers by and large won’t want to join something with a title containing “Real Ale” that’s so obviously of a bygone age.


      4. Even if CAMRA became the CAMpaign for CRAFt beer (including Real Ale), I doubt younger drinkers would have any interest in joining it.

        Unlike in 1974, they don’t need to attend meetings or buy a GBG to find the best places; in an internet world they have Trip Advisor or RateBeer or whatever. Or they can just walk through the centre of town; the best beer won’t be in the suburbs anymore.

        And why else would they get involved ? No need for beer festivals when there’s a hundred different beers in Stockport or even Stafford tonight.

        And as for campaigning against pub closures ? All they see is new shiny ones replacing the old men’s pubs.

        (written affectionately but in all seriousnedd)


  4. Rumour has it you have been nominated as Camra’s Scottish Ambassador! There is of course plenty of good cask beer in Scotland but chasing the newbies doesn’t always locate it. I do think the advent of craft beer (however broadly defined) in some parts of Scotland has suppressed the potential growth of cask, whereas in places like Manchester it seems to thrive alongside it, or even complement it. You generated plenty of comment here!


    1. And again you are the voice of reason!

      Actually I’ve no idea which of these are newbies and which have been in since 1980.

      jt of Carlisle fame made the same point on Twitter that Scottish keg craft is better priced (St Andrews and 6 Degrees North as well as the £2.99 pints in Spoons).


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