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Restaurant with almost good beer

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Once again, last week we found ourselves in a restaurant which had made a bit of an effort with the beer, but not quite enough.

On the up side, there was one of each colour — Hoegaarden (yellow), Guinness (black) and Innis and Gunn (brown).

Sadly, the Guinness was the widgetised draught bottle (fairly bland) and Innis and Gunn’s beer is nowhere near as good as their marketing.

It wouldn’t take much to improve the beer offer here, without getting too geeky. Non-widgety Guinness Original isn’t bad; Hook Norton bottled Double Stout or Fuller’s London Porter would be even better.

And why not replace Innis and Gunn with… well, almost any bottled ale?

We guess the owners are buying what they can get at their cash-and-carry of choice, or through their wine supplier. We’d be interested to hear from anyone who knows how this works, and what would need to change to improve things.

The restaurant was the otherwise very good Eat 17 in Walthamstow, London.

11 replies on “Restaurant with almost good beer”

That’s a shame. Last time I ate there there were some good beer choices including Coopers Sparkling.

I think the problem is that owners don’t know much about beer (if anything at all) and they are victims of the marketing like anyone else. I can’t speak for this owner in particular, but happens many times that if you ask them why they have stuff like Guinness Draught they will say that it’s because that is what people like (or so they think)

Dan — they had a lot of good beer in the deli for a while, too, but have gradually whittled the stock down to a few really boring ones. I’m sure they’ll crack it eventually — it’s obvious their hearts are in the right place.

PF — Innis and Gunn in particular is marketed as a premium/luxury/connoiseur product and certainly looks the part.

A pint bottle of Guinness with CO2 over nitro can be a nice accompaniment with fish dishes

I quite like Innis & Gunn, and I also like white beer, but still find Hoegaarden far too bland!

In my experience, places that don’t know much, but want to offer something a little better, simply listen to what the rep has to say. Here, the ABIB reps simply inform them of their products (the 2 local breweries I support from my rep aren’t even listed on their sales sheets), even if they happen to distribute a smaller craft brewery as well. So they bring it what they’re told sells, and what they’ve heard of.

Small breweries sending out their own reps to seek and maintain accounts do themselves a world of good. I really think brewery sales reps are crucial for protecting your interests as a small brewer in the market when there’s so much BIGness working against you.

So if you know of a good spot with not-good-enough-beer, call a brewer and say, “Hey, I think you guys should hit up this account.” In a former life, I followed up and lined up accounts on such tips from beer drinkers in the field.

Paul — if I’m completely honest, I find it hard to taste much difference between the various Belgian wheat beers, but Hoegaarden’s good enough for me.

Wilson — great practical advice from an insider, there. Thanks! I’ve emailed a couple of breweries just now, although some of them are bored of hearing suggestions from us for places to tout their wares.

I think they are just trying to hit all bases at once – at yes, chances are they aren’t as informed as us. Why not ask them – or suggest some alternatives?

Geoff — we’ve all got our guilty pleasures, and I’m sure you’re not the only one with a sneaking fondness for creamy Guinness. It’s the first beer a lot of people try when they start to get bored of fizzy lager and, although I find it bland now, I remember thinking it was almost undrinkably complex and bitter the first time I had it. Compared to Fosters.

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