pubs real ale

100 WORDS: A Warning to the Curious

Generic beer pumps in photocopy style.

A busy pub in Sheffield on Saturday night, and a line of hand-pumps from here to the horizon.

We order a pint of this one, and a half of that one, then spot the other one which we’ve been wanting to try out of academic curiosity.

“Oh, actually, can you make it a half of [REDACTED].”

The person behind the bar hesitates, glances, and says quietly (yet somehow audible over the hubbub):


“Not good?”

A slight wrinkle of the nose conveys everything we need to know.

“Ah, right, scratch that.”

A conspiratorial nod – good move, well done, smart choice.

7 replies on “100 WORDS: A Warning to the Curious”

Was the implication that it was odd, or well past its best?

If the former, shouldn’t a taster have been offered?

And, if the latter, why was it still on sale?

The above was the entirety of the conversation. Just not a very good beer, we understood it to mean. And far too busy for tasters.

In a pub in Manchester I once asked for a pint of Lees bitter. The barman, realising I wasn’t local, raised an eyebrow and said “Have you ever had it before?” The only other time I have ever been asked this was by a waitress in a restaurant in Paris when I ordered the andouilette, which perhaps gives some indication of most people’s reaction on first tasting Middleton’s finest.

On the subject of ‘first time you try it…’, I used to go regularly to a club that only served Holt’s bitter. I think they’ve changed the recipe since then, as I remember it being darkish and seriously bitter – I remember thinking that it looked like wood varnish and tasted like it too. Drinking it week in, week out, I developed quite a taste for it – but woe betide me if I had a couple of weeks off; first pint back, it was the great taste of Cuprinol all over again.

I guess session beers that positively repel the casual drinker are a dying breed now – for them to be viable, you need (a) drinking beer in the pub to be a lifestyle in itself and (b) single-beer pubs to be normal. Neither of which has really been the case for quite a while now – if you don’t like the beer you can switch to something else, and if you don’t like the pub you can go home and watch Netflix. O brave new world that’s not populated by grumpy red-faced men who know your Dad…

I’m not a big fan a try before you buy, however something happened a couple of weeks ago to challenge that.

I got a message “Join me for a pint” I replied “Too tired might be coming down with a cold”.
“Aw please, I never now what to order in a craft place, I’ll buy ” so I relented

We get there and with six pumps there are five blondes/goldens.
So I asked for the none blonde, Super Spruce, half as my nose was bunged. My friend went for a pint.

No “its a bit different”, no “its not to everyone’s taste” ~ it was like cough syrup
Which meant my half was the perfect remedy but my, how my friend struggled with his pint.

Comments are closed.