Of course like everyone I have my favourite beers (I might have mentioned Bass). Whilst beer quality may have generally improved over the years, I’m beginning to realise that the beer name on the pump clip is often irrelevant and difficult to rely on, particularly for the big sellers.
What really matters is the landlord come cellarman. (I realise that women do the jobs as well, but landlady never seems right.) Isn’t it time we gave recognition to the folk who get all kinds of beers to us in excellent nick. Britain’s top cellar man or woman should be on a plinth.
I’ve had some poor pints of TT’s Landlord over the years, to the extent I usually ignore it outside of Yorkshire. I remember Jeff Bell aka Stonch deciding against Landlord as he didn’t have the cellar space to stillage it for the TT’s head brewer’s suggested time. Of course I know that if I was in the Boltmakers in Keighley or the Woolly Sheep in Skipton I could have a wonderful pint.
Similarly I’m dubious about London Pride outside a Fuller’s pub and, on the flipside, the Green Man at Sandridge would be one of my only places for a GK Abbot. Bass at the Stretton Social Club might not be served from the jug, but they serve a consistently cracking pint.
On the microbrewery front the same applies. Sometimes good…sometimes bad, but I’m less certain as to whether that’s the beer or the landlord. I suspect that it’s usually the latter. In small territories directly supplied, by the likes of Allendale and Yorkshire Dales breweries, I’m much more confident about my pint. They know and trust the people who sell their beers.
As RetiredMartin has described on his many GBG pub expeditions, beer quality is generally good but varies even amongst the best. And remember he tends to drink the pub’s most popular pint.
I’ve had good and bad pints in free houses, tied houses, pub restaurants and micropubs; GBG entries, and places unlikely to be ever considered for listing. In my experience, the type of drinking venue and the beer brand are of little consequence unless the landlord happens to keep a close eye on quality and achieves sufficient sales volume.
So next time you’re given a really good pint across the bar, don’t just think it’s all down to the brewer, remember to thank the landlord. He, or she, has probably been responsible for your perfect beer.