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 thoughts on “100 WORDS: A Warning to the Curious”

  1. 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?

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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…

  3. 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.

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