More specifically Real Ale, a sure sign of proving if the watering hole you have found yourself in is worthy of your hard earned cash. Unlike your keg beers, lagers and smooth flows the quality of the real ale defines how good your Pub team are. Real Ale is a living liquid and thus has to be maintained, a job which contrary to some belief, is not particularly difficult but is astoundingly not done right a lot of the times. A well kept beer is a sign of attentive staff and management and a good sign of the efficiency of the staff is to note the speed of change of the guest ales, if they turnover a lot it is a good sign of staff which know what they are doing. Of course getting guest ales in has a certain element of risk, not every ale will be a hit with the pub’s crowd, it is a chance your barman takes on every order. A seasoned barman will be able to have a shrewd idea of the sort of beers that will sell based on the regular trade, but of course you also need to appeal to beyond your regular trade and gambles often pay off. An infrequent visitor may soon become a new regular thanks to the variation of ales and styles, being a barman is at times akin to being in a Star Wars movie: it is balancing between the light and the dark. At the moment here in Blighty, Gold and Light ales are popular with a plethora of Pale Ales, Golden Ales and !ight Ale saturating the scene and a low level presence of dark ales such as Mild,Porter and Stout being about. Cask Mild, Porter and Stout aren’t a particularly common sight on pulls at the moment with many pubs only going as far as dark Amber or Tawny ales to appeal to the dark side.
This will no doubt change, CAMRA push Mild in May to help bring that particular ale style back in the Limelight and get it out of the “old man’s drink” reputation it has. I feel CAMRA needs to push dark ale more: how about a Back to Black campaign with a tagine like”once you try black, you’ll never go back”.