This is an interesting Tweet from Matt Curtis who is currently doing some shifts in a pub:
First pub work revelation: the amount of people asking for bitter/best something smooth/malty/Amber – a market being left behind by craft?
— Matthew Curtis (@totalcurtis) March 20, 2016
One of our friends springs to mind: he likes bitter, hates ‘that grapefruit thing’ and struggles to find anything he fancies drinking in places like The Craft Beer Co, despite its vast range. He has lately taken to putting his foot down and insisting on meeting in pubs with at least one old-school, brown, balanced beer.
So, yes, we reckon pubs or bars with a craft identity (def 2.) perhaps ought to take account of this potential market.
Of course many already do, often looking to craft breweries (again, def. 2 — founded since about 2005, graffiti on their pump-clips, etc.) to provide something a bit like bitter but with more pizazz — Amber or Red are the usual codewords.
But maybe that’s misguided.
Maybe instead everyone should just acknowledge that the best old-school bitters are made by old-school breweries who have been doing it for 30, 40, 100 or more years, and embrace them.
Five years or so ago the sight of, say, a Black Sheep or Timothy Taylor Landlord pump in a would-be trendy post-gastro, pre-craft pub would have made us groan. Too many times we paid over the odds for something stale, warm and headless served in something like an IKEA tumbler. So pointedly not serving those beers, or London Pride, or Butcombe Bitter, was a good way for Proper Craft places to signal their intent: there’s no Peroni here, only Camden Hells; we don’t have Guinness, try this Thornbridge stout; and we certainly don’t sell any of The Usual Suspect boring brown bitters. Then, that made sense. Then, we welcomed it.
But now, that point doesn’t need hammering home and so perhaps it’s time to let Fuller’s, Taylor’s, Harvey’s, Hook Norton (def. 1) et al back into the party.
We’d be quite happy to see London Pride, Landlord or Sussex Best, in really top condition, as part of the offer at the Craft Beer Company.
Or at a BrewDog bar.
[Exit left, pelted with tomatoes.]