Here’s the problem: when a pint of beer costs more, and you’ve got less, you don’t have much tolerance for duds.
When a pint of dark mild cost pennies, perhaps you didn’t object to being given slops every now and then.
But if you’ve gone to the pub intending to drink, say, three pints, because that’s what the weekly budget will permit, you want each one to be at least decent. Perfect, really.
At the same time, people running pubs or breweries might hope that they’ll be cut a bit of slack. These are challenging times all round, with energy prices, staff shortages and poor quality blue roll.
Beer businesses are popping out of existence, or getting mothballed, left, right and centre.
Is now the time to be pernickety about beer quality, full measures and service standards?
Well, it’s never the right time to be a dick about these things, but it’s also perfectly reasonable to expect a £5+ luxury – that’s what a pint has become – to spark joy. Pubs which can continue to provide that will do better business in the coming months.
One option is to reduce the range rather than risk a dip in quality.
BBC Wales ran a story yesterday, which we briefly mentioned on Mastodon, about a pub which has reduced its beer range as a cost-reduction measure:
“Taking off three or four brands will make the cooler system a bit more energy efficient… I don’t want to restrict the choice, but customers would prefer the pub to still be here in December, January and February having a smaller choice, than have a larger choice and possibly not being here in the new year… I’ve got to do it for the longevity of the pub.”
Some cask ale enthusiasts have been arguing for years that pubs ought to do this. Three great ales are better than five slightly tired ones. And a single cask hand pump, serving decent volumes of one beer, is better than none at all.
If we walk into a pub and it’s got one great beer on cask, we’re certainly happy. A decent pale-n-hoppy, a proper plain stout, Butcombe bitter on form – that sort of thing.
We think we’ve seen this happening in various pubs in Bristol.
One pub, The Swan With Two Necks, had only one cask ale on a Thursday night a couple of weeks ago.
It was, as it happens, cask mild. And very good too.