We were recently in a pub serving a range of beers we know well enough to realise that they’re never supposed to be hazy.
But, of course, the beer we ordered was served with a light haze, Moor-style, which we gently questioned.
“Oh, it’s been like that all day. It probably didn’t quite settle out right before we tapped the cask.”
It was said pleasantly enough, but dismissively – a variation on “Nobody else has complained” crossed with a watered down “It’s meant to be like that”.
Because we did know the beer, and wanted something particular from it – crispness, hop perfume – we pushed back: would it be OK, we wondered, to taste the beer, and if it had a noticeably different character than usual, or wasn’t at least as good despite the difference, have it replaced?
The manager was consulted and everyone agreed (after a bit more time and effort than one drink deserved) that this was a good idea.
Sure enough, it tasted fine – not sour or nasty – but noticeably muted, and rather dull, so we rejected it.
We – knowledgeable consumers, relatively speaking, and confident about speaking up – were able to navigate this situation to reach a satisfactory conclusion, but we can imagine others coming away thinking ill of that beer and brewery, and probably unimpressed with the pub.
But why would the manager make the choice to keep serving a beer they know isn’t right? Incompetence? Indifference? Our suspicion is that it was an unintended consequence of the corporate setup within which the pub operates prioritising the need to minimise wastage over quality.
Others, though, might argue that this is further evidence that increased acceptance of haze in certain beers is causing confusion and justifying shoddiness more generally. If that’s the case then complaining when possible (quietly, politely), making it more trouble than it is worth, might be part of the solution.