It’s Been Like That All Day”

Cartoon: a man peers at a beer with a beady eye.

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.

6 thoughts on “It’s Been Like That All Day””

  1. this is fur­ther evi­dence that increased accep­tance of haze in cer­tain beers is caus­ing con­fu­sion and jus­ti­fy­ing shod­di­ness more gen­er­al­ly”.

    Quite right – the point that peo­ple such as Tan­dle­man and myself make is not that haze in beer is per se unac­cept­able, but where beers are intend­ed to be clear (as the vast major­i­ty still are), any sign of haze is almost invari­ably a sign that there’s some­thing wrong with it. Yes, it may be drink­able enough, but the edge has been knocked off it.

    1. It’s a valid point, but it often gets lost in a load of shout­ing about cloudy beer being incom­pe­tent­ly brewed / unap­pe­tiz­ing / like­ly to give you the shits which then gets (jus­ti­fi­ably) ignored as being prob­a­bly wrong, a mat­ter of taste and ver­i­fi­ably wrong respec­tive­ly.

      1. Who’s doing the shout­ing? If the beer is delib­er­ate­ly cloudy, is it real­ly so dif­fi­cult to design a pump clip that makes this clear? If the cloudi­ness is unin­ten­tion­al (as appears to have been the case in the exam­ple), why is the beer on sale?

  2. One of my favorite bars will peri­od­i­cal­ly have a mild line infec­tion on one line. It’s mild enough the aver­age drinker prob­a­bly just thinks that beer isn’t for them but doesn’t think it’s awful. I’ve polite­ly point­ed it out to them every time I’ve noticed it, and they always gen­tly dis­miss my objec­tion. I’m a Cer­ti­fied Cicerone, I work with them for beer pair­ing events, and I’ve done staff train­ing for them, so they know I know what I’m talk­ing about. Very frus­trat­ing.

  3. The haze and sour effect have been around for a while now but are increas­ing­ly notice­able.

    I recent­ly gen­tly point­ed out that a beer I know well was slight­ly acetic (shouldn’t be). Staff mem­ber said it had come in like that. I said if I’d been sent it like that I’d send it back to the brew­er and explained that I am in the trade myself. All per­fect­ly ami­ca­ble. The staff mem­ber lat­er made a com­ment about how you nev­er can tell with these unfined beers…

    There’s some seri­ous knowl­edge gap and staff train­ing issues around at the moment. Unfor­tu­nate­ly I think the often unde­served hype sur­round­ing some of the gen­uine sours and murks com­bined with the poor show­ing of more tra­di­tion­al styles is mak­ing it grad­u­al­ly hard­er to sell gen­uine­ly good beer to peo­ple gen­er­al­ly. Cer­tain­ly not impos­si­ble, but hard­er.

  4. It’s def­i­nite­ly mud­died the water. I was recent­ly at a craft beer bar when me and a friend got served two opaque pints of cask beer. The sec­ond one had bits in so the bar staff imme­di­ate­ly took it back but as the first didn’t smell of vine­gar they put up a bit of a fight before chang­ing it.

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