Categories
opinion

A Bar Too Far?

Keg taps.

When breweries resort to publicly shaming a bar for failing to pay for beer it’s probably a sign that establishment is in the process of failing.

We’ve watched the increase in the number of craft beer bars outside the very biggest urban centres with interest, and perhaps a little anxiety: can small towns, or even smaller cities, really support these kinds of niche venues?

We try not to be excessively triumphalist (‘The victory of Craft is assured — not one step back!’) or overly pessimistic (‘We’re doomed!’) but, on balance, this is a worrying sign — a small crack in the plaster that might be nothing, or might indicate that one side of the structure is about to fall off.

For now, it goes into a slim file of evidence alongside the time we had a small-town craft beer bar to ourselves for two hours one Sunday lunchtime, and this story from our Saturday news round-up about a supposed craft beer bar being turned back into a traditional pub.

We haven’t named the bar or linked to the Tweets in question because, although it was a public exchange, our instincts tell us it’s private business and that people struggling to pay their bills probably don’t need a pile on. The picture is from the Beavertown tap room and is a serving suggestion only.

Categories
pubs real ale

Cornwall Update: Falmouth Levels Up

Falmouth’s already thriving beer ‘scene’ has a (relatively) new addition in Mono, a music-focused bar and gig venue on the corner of Killigrew Street.

We first spotted it in July but didn’t actually get chance to sit down for a drink until last weekend. This doesn’t constitute a review — we had one pint each during a quiet Friday lunchtime — but though it worth flagging.

It looks a bit like a BrewDog bar — doesn’t everything these days? — even down to those ubiquitous ‘craft’ light-bulbs, and has 10 keg taps as well as four for cask-conditioned beer mounted on the wall behind the bar.

Lightbulbs and interior at Mono, Falmouth, October 2015.

On our visit, the keg offer included beers from Brew By Numbers, Wild Beer Co and Harbour Brewing, all priced at between £4-£4.70 per pint. The cask tended more to the traditional and featured Timothy Taylor Landlord and Bass (a Falmouth staple) at a rather competitive £3 a pint, alongside Siren Liquid Mistress (£3.40) and Harbour Amber (£3.10). The Landlord was in good-as-Yorkshire condition.

Its owner, Peter Walker, is also behind the nearby Hand Bar and runs his own beer distribution operation. We visited both bars on Friday and were pleased to find different draught beers on offer in each. When we spoke to him briefly at Mono, he was keen to stress that it is a gig venue rather than targeted at beer geeks, but if you’re pub crawling in Falmouth, and craving up-country beer, you’d be daft not to take a look.

Categories
london pubs

Bar well and truly raised

Ten years ago, with the range of beers they offer today, the Red Lion in Leytonstone or the Bull in Highgate would have been among the best pubs in London. Now, while certainly way better than run-of-the-mill, they merely count as friendly neighbourhood craft beer bars.

That’s right: every neighbourhood in London now seems to have a craft beer bar and many (like the Bull) are also brewing. Everywhere you look, there are enamel signs advertising Orval and glowing neon Brooklyn Brewery logos. These days, you’re never more than a bus ride from a pint of Dark Star or a Camden Helles.

These kinds of places seem (thank God) to be replacing the kind of ‘style bars’ or ersatz ‘gastropubs’ which were everywhere until recently and which had snobbery without the saving grace of exciting beer. They were the kinds of places where you would be charged a fiver for a pint of stale Erdinger wheat beer or four quid for a pint of UK-brewed San Miguel; now, for that money, you get beers that are (arguably) worth the asking price.

There’s more detail on each of these pubs to follow in subsequent posts. Suffice to say we liked them all the more for their localness: drinking in them didn’t feel like a trip to Beerworld, Britain’s newest theme park.