pubs real ale

Awkwardness and Puppy Dog Eyes

Last night, we attempted a mid-week visit to the pub, and made a bee-line for one very close to our house which has a relaxed atmosphere and excellent St Austell Proper Job. Usually.

We walked in out of the rain and found an empty bar. The landlady greeted us with almost unhinged glee: customers!

Our faces fell. The Proper Job pumpclip was turned round. “Is that off, then?” asked Boak, knowing what the answer would be.

“Yes,” said the landlady, “but we’ve got this Cornish ale on as well.” (With flourish.)

It was, of course, from one of the Cornish breweries we don’t mention — one whose beers always disappoint; a purveyor of bland, sweet, often nasty-tasting ales usually found skunking next to the wooden swords and heritage oven gloves in ornamental garden gift shops.

She stared at us, poised to pull two pints. There was a silence. “We’re not fans,” said Boak eventually.

The landlady looked crushed, as if we’d passed judgement not only the beer but on her business. On her. We felt like arseholes.

We didn’t just want to walk out so ended up with bottles of Estrella Damm, the least worst option, which we polished off as quickly as possible before aborting the mission and heading home.

What else could we do?

21 replies on “Awkwardness and Puppy Dog Eyes”

I think I’d have asked for a taster, if only for the opportunity to show the landlady that you’re not just blindly loyal to the St Austell brand. And who knows, the beer might have been fixed.

Do you know, that didn’t even occur to us — we’re just not in the habit and, frozen in the headlights, we resorted to panic-buying. That’s what we’ll do next time.

(And if she’d said ‘we don’t do tasters’, we’d have been justified in leaving.)

They’re the times I usually opt for something like you have done, or something like a g&t. I suppose you could have asked for a little taste, and then say it wasn’t to your taste…?

Passing judgment on the beer does make you look a bit snooty, I’m afraid. I think I would have said “Oh… it was really the Proper Job I was after…” Mind you, I would also have walked out without getting anything, out of sheer embarrassment – at least you spent some money.

It makes you look like you think you know better than the landlady about the quality of her beer, which is an awkward position to put her in. Imagine taking a pint back to the bar and saying “it’s not off, it’s just a rubbish beer” – puppy dog eyes would be the least of your problems.

On the other hand, in this case you do know better about the quality of the beer, so it’s hard to avoid giving that impression! Hence my idea of making it look as if you just happen to have an eccentric fixation on the Proper Job.

I might have taken the opportunity to have the “you know, I can help you with this” talk. I have found in a private setting bar owners quite happy to have the chat about better beer as long as it is discrete and is about getting people like you to come to the bar more often leaving more money. Buy the pint you don’t like and then go through it with the owner.

We’ve *never* managed to have this conversation, though we’ve often wanted to. (Floss and Roger at the Nags Head in Walthamstow: you need better bottled beer to match your pub’s ‘brand’! Sorry we never got round to mentioning this to you.)

And, actually, how come *she* didn’t take the opportunity to say “Oh, you’re not a fan? That’s interesting. Tell me more…”?

If we’re going to be snooty, we might as well be *really* snooty — out comes the thermometer, the Randall Jr., and an oversized wine glass…

I’m with Alan on this one.

Far too often I come across landlords/staff who don’t even drink real beer. How are you supposed to make a quality judgement on that basis? Imagine dealing with a vegetarian butcher or a baker with gluten or yeast allergies.

Landlords and managers need to up their game and realise there isn’t an endless supply of drinkers who’ll turn up whatever the weather.

Imagine dealing with a vegetarian butcher

A propos of nothing, we used to have one of those just down the road – high-quality cheese, meat and honey (all things I’m strongly in favour of), sold by a veggie. It didn’t last very long. I never bought anything there – everything was insanely expensive and the meat was all shrink-wrapped, as was most of the cheese. I’m not sure exactly who it was meant to appeal to – someone who likes the idea of good food but doesn’t actually like, well, food?

alas you are sending the wrong message to the landlady.she will be ordering crates and crates of estrella damm thinking its a good substitue for Proper job.

There’s nothing worse than walking into an empty pub and seeing nothing but beer you know you don’t like. If it’s busy at least you can “do one” sharpish but when empty it’s embarrassing to you and them to leave. A cheeky half is my normal get out..

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