“BITTER MEANS JOHN SMITHS SMOOTH”

99% of my pub visits, i.e. 594 a year, are enjoyable affairs.

The odd one, a Conservative Club in Berkshire or a Buckinghamshire gastro with high tables for drinkers for instance, will disappoint.

Very rarely do I leave a pub upset, unless they’ve been showing a City CAR decision or have Coldplay on repeat.

The next one upset me, in the way Paul Mudge was upset in Spoons recently by being accused of shouting. Paul is the gentlest bloke I know.

I’m keeping this anonymous, as I don’t want a fight with the pub, concerned, and there’s always fault on both sides (Paul really shouldn’t have asked for a taster of the Doom Bar).

Mildly busy estate pub, Sunday afternoon, loud music, locals standing along the bar blocking the pumps, me the only non local.

I squash in next to what is known in Only Fools and Horses parlance as the bar flap (don’t overthink this) and do my fat middle aged bloke politely waiting for service thing.

I can see the pumps dispensing Adnams Bitter, Ghost Ship and Old. Hurrah!

The barmaid spots me while she’s pouring a Bitter and shouts,

What you having?”

Another pint of the Bitter please” I say, pointing at the pump.

I’m serving someone else!” she barks.

I’m taken aback, and assume I misheard her shouting “Be with you in a minute“.

So I profusely apologise when she asks what I want a minute later.

A pint of that Bitter please”

A minute or two later a John Smiths glass arrives.

Sorry. I asked for the Bitter

Bitter means John Smiths Smooth. If you’d wanted a real ale you should have asked for it

But. But.

I’m not arguing with you

She was, and the bar knew it. I felt like the bloke taking a pint back in Deal that time.

She changed it, with maximum bad grace.

Anyway. I felt like dirt.

And the worst thing?

That pint of Bitter was nectar. NBSS 4 at least.

Fire away.

36 thoughts on ““BITTER MEANS JOHN SMITHS SMOOTH”

  1. Oh dear that’s awful -I would have been annoyed too -I can’t handle people being nasty to me ,particularly when I’ve done nothing wrong

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      1. The shutters on the bar make it look more like a club, where a barmaid might not welcome a non-member, than a pub.

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      1. In the Bird in Hand on a Sunday afternoon two or three times I’ve asked for “and a carvery” and she’s gone for the Carling.
        I daren’t say “carvery” any louder.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. She’ll ban you.

        In the Starbucks on a motorway services I asked, slowly, for “a filter coffee to drink in”

        He started pouring two.

        “Just one”

        “You said two”

        I said “to drink in”

        “yes, you said two”

        Grumpy AND old

        “You said two”

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      3. And that reminds me of a customer in Tim’s Warwick venue last year ordering a pint from the Two Towers Brewery and then having to explain “no, only one”.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. A friend of mine received a rather sullen response from a barman, when he asked for “a Tiny Quarter”, repeating what his companion had requested to the best of his memory.

    His friend was from the West Indies. He wanted a tonic water.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They’re strange those folk in Deal – nearly as strange as the folk in Southampton; but that’s a different story!

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  3. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I can’t actually recall an occasion where having been served something I didn’t ask for (it happens for all manner of reasons), the bar person hasn’t been apologetic, assumed or pretended it’s their fault even when it’s obvious it wasn’t, and changed the pint immediately. Such that when it has happened I often insist on keeping what’s been served just to soothe the tearful barmaid/valet.

    Overworked staff or just narky, not right.

    Having said that, it must be 20 years since I heard anyone ordering the Bitter, perhaps she thought you were taking the piss!…

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  4. Busy local that is making money. A place where people can go and meet their friends and neighbours. Adding to that, well-kept ales at, I presume, reasonable prices. I can see why you’re upset.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Can well imagine how you felt. Another reason bar blockers should be stopped, if you were stood anywhere near the pump you could have been clearer or stopped her getting it wrong.

    Most people I’ve ever heard order John smiths ask for a pint of Smiths, not bitter.

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  6. I thought “Pint of Smooth” was the accepted phrase when requesting a John Smith’s? Extremely unexpected attitude from the barmaid there.

    I once unwittingly attended the “soft opening” of a pub under new management (They hadn’t finished the refit but had committed to a date), and after three attempts at ascertaining if any of the beers were indeed on the nonplussed barmaid turned to the new landlord and said “He wants the bitter”, to which he sagely responded “Ah, well we’ve got Fosters then”. I eventually managed to negotiate a half a Guinness and supped up quickly.

    There was also a pub in Carlisle perhaps five years ago where I ordered a “pint of bitter” based on the very clearly displayed name on a pump clip while pointing towards it, and received nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders from the disinterested barmaid.

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  7. It strikes me that most of the bar blockers are sitting on stools provided by management for the purpose. Perhaps places like that should not be in the GBG? At some point a pub can turn into what is more of a club and I can see this happening in at least one place locally – they do have another bar but that seems to be more of a restaurant by evening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I don’t hold with barring anybody from the Guide for anything except Coldplay.

      It was the best beer I’ve had for ages, and I’m sure if the music had been playing a bit lower I’d be raving about it now.

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    2. Ian,
      “what is more of a club” but I’ve already suggested that “The shutters on the bar make it look more like a club …… than a pub” and Martin hasn’t denied that it’s a club.
      My expectations of a club are lower than of a pub.
      .

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