Subtitle: Anecdotal evidence on the continuing tribulations of cask beer.
Yes, the title is used for the rhyme and not for casting any aspersion on the drinkers I observed.
A few years ago I was in my local chippy when the bloke in front of me requested a chip barm* in his order.
“We’ve got no barms left I’m afraid” came the response from the server “but we’ve got bread if that’s OK for you?”
“It’s not brown is it?” came the worried follow-up from the customer.
I still vividly recall the trepidation in his voice, I pictured that after a hectic week his Friday treat of a chippy tea was about to get less rewarding as it would feature non-white bread.
Let’s be honest, brown (and wholemeal) is fine for toast and sandwiches but for a chip or crisp butty it is both pointless and akin to those people who order lots of food in a take-away and then insist on a diet drink (not that you get much choice of avoiding the bitter, chemical drek the sugar tax has forced the big chains to make).
No one likes the taste of diet soft drinks really; just like no one likes the taste of highly processed bread that isn’t white, and thick, doorstep thick. If you’re going to treat yourself, do it right.
Sunday just gone I had the pleasure of travelling to York (visited many times before) to watch Leigh lose by 1 point in the championship division of rugby league. I’ve travelled far further to see Leigh lose by 1 point (and by far more) but I’d never been to the Bootham Crescent ground before.
As a side note, it should be noted the Leigh’s home ground now only serves bottles and cans (poured into plastic cups) at the ground on match days, the time of even keg beer has passed it would seem. To be fair all grounds I’ve been to only serve keg beer, with the exception of The Shay in Halifax. Though all the grounds to make an effort to re-badge known brands as their “own” – so if you’re a ticker or are on Untappd, maybe trek along on a match day.
It should also be noted that drinking can still occur on the terraces of rugby matches and on the supporter coaches too so go fuck yourselves, South Ayrshire Police (and nanny Scotland in general).
We had arrived not in enough time to get to any pubs in the centre but in enough time to grab a few at the closest venue which was York Burton Lane Club it is always gratifying to find a Whatpub entry that is incorrect as they were serving cask beer, so York branch may wish to update this page sometime and look after your clubs as much as your pubs.
Paying a £1 entry as a non-member I clocked the rather obvious poster, which were also behind the bar, highlight that they had A Knight’s Ale by local microbrewers Isaac Poad for only £2 a pint. They also had John Smith’s (bitter) on cask too as well as a variety of Sam Smith’s keg amongst the usual standard lagers and ciders.
I’m always slightly trepidatious myself about cask beer at a certain price; it is on the turn and they are just trying to shift it and being in a strange environment with a horde of other piling in behind me I wasn’t about to ask to try it first (not that I actually do anyway, just go for a half, that’s a taster). So a pint was ordered and very good it both taste and condition it was too.
But the conversations I heard around the bar reminded me of the aforementioned chip shop incident.
“Pint of bitter please” was a regular cry (other than “pint of lager” of course).
“Cask or smooth” was the barmaid’s reply, not even attempting to ever push the guest ale (which I suppose wouldn’t count as a bitter per se but still…)
“Smooth…smooth” were the numerous, convulsed replies.
Stick with what you know I suppose, price isn’t really an object in a rushed environment when you’re on a day trip.
Scanning the busy drinking area there were a few on the cask, I’m not going to put a number on it, nor what the average age of the clientèle was as this is just anecdotal.
But if you can’t shift cask beer at £2 a pint to the thirsty; then really, is it a premium product that can attract top whack and are those breweries that sell it for less really creating a rod for the backs of themselves and every other brewer?
Thanks for reading.
*barmcake, bap, cob, roll, batch, muffin, teacake, etc.