Pubpaper 580 – Spirit of Independence.

Posted: 30th October 2010 by admin in Pub Paper, Writing

This article appeared in Pubpaper 580

The Good Pub Guide for the last 27 years has not charged pubs for being included in the guide, with inclusion being based purely on merit. However from the 2012 edition, pubs will be charged between £99 and £199 for being included based on size. At this point a second consideration is added when being listed, the ability to pay. This is not the best time to be introducing such a charge, and I do understand that it takes money to compile the guide, and this has to be recouped somehow, but I think from 2012 the guide will become that little bit less independent.

Real Ale through its chain of freehouses, privately owned breweries and organisations such as Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) and the LocAle gives a very strong reputation of independence. It’s part of the appeal of the product that you are supporting the “small (to medium) man”, and not putting money into the pockets of large multinational conglomerates. You know the money will be fed back into keeping a good pub how we like it, and the brewers producing more beers which we will appreciate. CAMRA and its association with the Good Beer Guide was an extension of this reputation, lets hope this small wound in that reputation does not spread.

Talking of the “small man”, although to be honest this small man is rather rotund after selling 500,000 bottles a month, the brewer of one of my favourite new beers of recent times, Brewdog’s Punk IPA, have finally got hold of their own licensed premises after only 3 years of brewing (pity it’s in Aberdeen, a city where I spent a very entertaining year in 1996-1997 doing my Masters degree while trying to avoid getting a proper job, if it was local you’d have to crowbar me out of the place). These guys do some great, distinctive beers, and uniquely produce only keg based brews, which goes against my usual tastes. They aren’t scared to court controversy, from offering free beer for life to anybody who got the brand logo tattooed on their body, to producing both the worlds strongest and most expensive beer. Its good to see companies like this doing well in the current climate and the good news is that they plan to have 4 sites by the end of 2011, including one in the north of England, somewhere I am looking forward to visiting very much.

Having a couple of days off this week afforded me the luxury of a lunchtime pint at the Barge and Barrel on Thursday, with my chosen beers being Abbeydale Moonshine, a lovely pale beer, and Elland Eden, one of the home brews from next door, which again was a fine example of a pale beer. However some otherwise good landlords have some strange ideas. This pubs foible was to not allow chips to be served on their own as a snack, but only as a side to a meal. After an few hours walking the moors at Bridestones, a bowl of chips would have just hit the spot. You can’t blame the staff, they can only enforce what the owner tells them, but I was told that I’m was far from the first person to be dumbfounded by this policy.

Wrapping up this weeks column, I’ll return to one of my elephants in the room, Greene King. As you may remember I mentioned the “Beer Matters” campaign they are being associated with about a month ago. I’ve been following this campaign to see when the Brewery would start to eclipse the campaign, and that happened this week with the latest article. Entitled “The importance of being tasty” it seems to spend most of its time extolling the virtues of their quality control and in house tasting process (must be collectively poor taste buds at the brewery IMO). It also gives advice to the landlord on how to taste beer, a bit like teaching your granny to suack eggs really. Finally it gives a guide to troubleshooting problems, but seems to miss out “Does it have a Greene King stamp on the barrel”. Anyway I’ll sign off for this week, as a visit to my newly re-opened local is well overdue.