Dump Red Stripe, get Budvar on


Last night, we wanted to go somewhere with a bit of music. A quick search turned up the Carpenter’s Arms, a nice looking pub with a DJ playing “eclectic beats” (eh?) every Saturday night.

As it happened, it was just what we were looking for. We enjoyed the music and the atmosphere and got lightly pissed. Nice.

Even though we weren’t in beer geek mode, we couldn’t help but ponder the selection of beers on offer. We gather that this is one of Mitchells and Butlers undercover chain pubs and the familiar line-up on the pumps confirmed that. There were more than 20 draft beers, some interesting, others less so.

What struck us most was the menu which offered five ‘pilsners’: Carlsberg, Red Stripe, Peroni, Becks Vier and Heineken. Then there were the two very similar wheat beers — Franziskaner and Erdinger.

Why offer five such similar lagers? Couldn’t they spare a pump for something a bit better (Budvar, Urquell) or different (Budvar Dark)? We’re not being weird beer snobs here — those aren’t exactly obscure or hard to get hold of, and would just broaden the range a bit.

This is exactly the kind of pub which should have Brewdog’s beers on offer, too.

And, controversially, we’re going to suggest that they should drop their cask ales altogether, or have a really long hard think about how they’re looking after them.  We tried a pint of London Pride (no-one else was touching it) and it tasted very, very old and stale. Maybe this just isn’t the place for them?

Of course, being part of a chain, even if it’s kept a bit secret, they’re bound by all kinds of contracts and agreements, so this is really feedback for the owners, rather than the cheery bar manager.

All in all, we had a good night, and didn’t struggle to find nice things to drink, with the aforementioned Franziskaner, kegged Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, bottles of Chimay Red,  and bottled Meantime Chocolate and Raspberry. But a few small changes could make this a great pub, rather than just a good one.