My usual practice on this blog is to ignore bad beer, write about good. Not so in this case. On a recent visit to a restaurant in my local area, I saw such an egregious ignorance of basic cask ale cellarmanship
or, worse yet, disdain for its customers that I couldn't remain silent.
In addition to serving draught beer, the pub in question serves cask ale, both via hand-pump from temperature-controlled and blanket-pressure-protected casks, and by gravity-pour from casks on the bartop.
On the early afternoon of my visit, a cask was sitting on the bar, warm, unprotected by any cooling method: neither ice-blanket, nor insulated jacket, nor simple wet towel. The cask may have resided there for a couple of days, as there was scant in it.
I watched as the bartender tilted the cask almost vertically, and, with a straight face, pour a customer the below-pictured glass.
Really? You must be joking!
Cask ale is fresh, CLEAR, cool, gently carbonated, and refreshing. That glass was not that. It was spent yeast and proteinaceous sludge.
A customer, not knowing the actual appearance and flavor of the beer in question, might have easily assumed that it and its brewery were not worth a second chance (let alone cask ale itself). I, 'knowing' the beer, could attest that the brewer is a capable one, and that the beer, —in its proper state— is delicious and only slightly hazy.
I've re-touched the photo to remove incriminating logos from the glass. I'll say no more than this: the restaurant is located within the Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia area. If the U.K.'s Casque Marque operated here, the pub's accreditation for "serving great cask ale" would have been summarily suspended. I'll protect the restaurant's identity but I'll abjure its actions.
UPDATE: I've been contacted by restaurant management, who has assured me that this was an aberration, not the restaurant's standard practice, and that it is taking corrective measures to prevent a recurrence. I understand that 'things happen,' which is one reason why I kept all names anonymous. I write Yours for Good Fermentables to promote good beer, not to flame someone's livelihood. I thought this a teachable moment, not a 'Yelp' gotcha.
- Upon complaint, the bartender did remove the cost of the pint from the check. There was another cask ale at the pub that day, served via beer engine, that was in fine condition. That's the one one I drank ... and enjoyed.
I can hope that the restaurant recognizes its errors, appreciates my discretion, and corrects its procedures.[Restaurant management responded positively. See the above update.]
- More information about the proper service of cask ale can be found at CaskAleUSA.