This week finds the writer sitting in Wetherspoon’s Barum Top at 9am having breakfast while writing this column and waiting for a hopefully small bill from the garage as a result of the MOT. While not as much of a fan of the chain as I used to be, due to their recently changed family eating / drinking policies (effectively excluding me and the family from using them unless we are all eating a meal, although they are not alone in this), what they have done is promote real ale to a wider audience with most bars having 4-5 non mainstream ales (many locally brewed) on tap, most of which are regularly rotated. The beers always seem to be kept well and served in good condition, and sold for a reasonable price. These pubs are no substitute for a proper real ale pub, but if they get people drinking real ale then it means there is more people for the smaller pubs to attract.

I suppose the big news of this week in the pub trade is that pubs are to be allowed to use measures other than pints and halves for draught beers. Traditionalists seem to be up in arms about this, saying it is going against the character of the British pub. The new measure that is to be proposed is a 2/3 pint “Schooner”. Like most people, I find that the “half pint” is just not big enough and can be drank in about 30 seconds, but if you are driving, its often the case that you will limit yourself to 1.5 pints, especially if drinking 5% beers. Having the choice of the “schooner” makes total sense, it means you can get two decent sized glasses of beer in the same scenario. Also it caters for the female audience where there is still a stigma with some about being seen with a “pint”. The government may pass many useless laws regarding the pub trade, this isn’t one of them. The only danger with this is that certain pubs will use this to increase the price per unit volume on the new size to fleece the customer, but I’ll try not to be cynical about this.

Most Belgian beers already have their own custom glasses tailored to the aroma and taste, it seen as normal there. You get the same with certain draft German beers as well, the most well know in the UK being the tall Erdinger curved glass. At home, I have several of these glasses, including Leffe, Duvel and Staropramen and I must say the rounded bell shaped Duvel glass is better for drinking out of, taking a bottle of real ale nicely. I know purists would have me lynched for not using a traditional glass, but I am not in their camp, merely enjoying my beer my way, as you should your own too. However I’ve got to say that its a big bonus when in the pub to be served in an old fashioned dimpled pint tankard, you just can’t beat it.

We have all had good idea when at the pub only to decide the following morning it was a pile of crock. However some people have the conviction to see it through. Stuart Howe, the head brewer at Sharps in Cornwall, decided on New Years Day 2010 to attempt to brew 52 different beers in 52 weeks and he managed it. Using a small side plant at the brewery, he’s got 30 beers to bottle and the rest to cask. As you expect the results were a mix of the excellent, average and poor. One of the beers was described by the tasting panel as “It smelt like semen and tasted like really bad home brew”. It just shows even the experts can get it very wrong.

Finally this week, its been announced, but not confirmed that all pubs will be able to open until 1am for the duration of the royal wedding bank holiday weekend in April without having to apply for permission locally. A sensible move in my book to save a lot of red tape. I can now look forward to a later session at my local while ignoring the royal wedding for even longer.

Time for a lie down now as I’ve complimented the government twice in 1 week and not had to criticise my usual brewer or pubco once. Normal service will hopefully be resumed next week.