buying beer pubs

If it's off, take it off

Hopefully, regular readers will have noticed that we try not to go for slagging off pubs and breweries: if we have a beer we don’t like, we tend not to mention it; or if a pub is nothing to write home about, well, we don’t write home.

There is one behaviour in pubs which is so annoying, though, that we have decided that we are going to start naming and shaming. That is where bar staff agree with you that a pint is off, give you a replacement, and then continue to sell it to other punters. (See also Pete Brown on this topic.)

There isn’t really any justification for this, unless the barman genuinely believes the complainer is wrong. In most cases it’s either ignorance on behalf of the staff (“it all tastes funny to me”; “Oh, yeah, this one’s meant to be a bit vinegary, I think”; “I’ll just humour the weirdo”) or blatant cynicism (“I know it’s ropey but most people are too polite to complain so I’ll keep flogging it”). In either case, it’s not good news.

So, this week’s badges of shame go to the Abbey in Westminster (to be honest, a rubbish place anyway, I was only there because someone else chose the venue) and the Old Dairy, Crouch Hill, North London. The latter has fabulous food, and is a great pub in every other respect (what a fantastic building) but unfortunately, their pints taste like warm butter, and they don’t seem to think most of their customers will care.


11 replies on “If it's off, take it off”

It is conceivable (although I accept doesn’t apply to most cases) that the bar staff change a beer in the interest of good customer relations, but don’t really believe there’s anything wrong with it. And there are some beers that some people might consider “off” because they have distinctive and unusual flavours.

I agree with you (Boak). In one pub, on one visit I returned two pints in a row, but neither beers were taken off. After already making a fuss about the my friends and decided to go somewhere else, rather than watch a succession of disappointed beer drinkers having to swallow stale beer.

Yes, but any bar owner/manager that hasn’t trained his bar staff to recognise when the beer is in such a condition that it ought not to be sold needs naming and shaming.

Any decent bar will change your drink if you think there is something wrong with it. However many a time I have been asked to swap a “dodgy” pint, whilst we will always change a drink if the customer is unhappy, it does not follow that we will throw away the rest of the barrel !!
It is also interesting that opinions amongst the regulars over the condition of various beers can often be diametrically opposed.

Oh the joys of cask ale !!

I honestly thought this was an issue that was far more prevalent in the states than it was over in the UK. It’s surely not an isolated incident though. It’s incredible really. You can easily tell the difference between those pubs and bars that have the passion for the craft that they engage in and sell and truly, I mean truly care about their patrons and those that are simply looking at it from a check book point of view.

I do have to agree with some of the posters though that a pub can’t simply toss the brew out just because one or two customers don’t prefer it. HOWEVER, if the majority rules, than the majority rules. It’s then that true character of the place truly shines through.

Sorry about the experience though guys!

Thanks for your comments, everyone. To be clear, in both of the cases we mention above, bar staff tasted the pints in question and said “Ugh, yeah, that’s not right,” or words to that effect, and then kept selling it.

Vinegar tastes like vinegar, even if bar staff don’t drink real ale they should be able to recognise vinegar.

Cheers to this, I too just don’t mention the beers or pubs that I have issues with but I see where you would want to with proprietors like these. Luckily most places that I go to in my neck of the woods will have them off the taps before anyone would even notice it, just the type of city Denver is though.

I had a similar-but-different- experience when I was in De Hems (in London) and asked for a bottle of Rodenbach.

The barmaid said “oh, you don’t want to drink that, it tastes of vinegar”…

I had the exactly the same experience in Northampton, beer was obviously off so I got it changed for a different beer, chap on the next table noticed I had complained and said he had been served a beer (from the same pump) before me, and had told the bar staff the beer was off.

So they had served me with the stuff after someone else had told them it was off!!!

Comments are closed.