Friday, 5 November 2010

Bar staff rubbish, parts 1 & 2

In a Fuller’s bar I see that the guest beer is Red Fox and order a pint while making general chitchat about London Porter and asking when it’s the turn of said beer to be the seasonal choice. I’m told it’s in bottle, to which I reply that I know, but when it’s on hand pump (or even better in my view on keg). I don’t know comes the reply from the nice enough guy, I don’t know my ale; I like beer the right way, cold. Said with a smile and I bat back some niceties with a smile, rictus like, while thinking that it doesn’t matter what you like matey, but when you’re working a bit of information might be in hand. Then I’m in a Welsh food festival and I’m in the beer tent — try this beer I’m told, it’s all Cascade. Nice. And then there’s another that’s also got the same hop grist, but it’s totally different I’m told. I do as bidden and the second beer has a green apple note, acetaldehyde — crisp green apples lying in the supermarket, lying in wait at the front of my palate. A youngness of beer. I take it back, look about because I don’t like to declare to all and sundry my problem with a beer — I think this might have a fault I say, quietly and carefully, green apple, don’t you know. It’s meant to be like that comes the reply, have you been eating something, said with a calmness and friendliness. A couple more words said, but I don’t want to make a scene, maybe I’m wrong, and so I walk away and try the beer again. No good, I leave it on the table and order another brewer’s beer, which is magnificent. Interesting point —I don’t make a fuss because I respect the brewery but I wonder if I’m being a wuss, but it definitely had a green apple hint upfront of the palate, which I didn’t find enjoyable. You win some you lose some. 


  1. The Fuller's barman is being snotty and driving away trade - not good. (How many people are drawn in by the prospect of banter with the barman, vs the prospect of beer the way *they* like it?) But it's the "tastes all right to me" attitude that really drives me up the wall. I've had it several times with pints that were actually off - generally they'll give you a replacement, but only after making you feel like a hypercritical weirdo (and of course the offending beer stays on).

    Honourable mention for replacing the pint in a flash, turning the pump clip round straight away and actually apologising: Wetherspoon's. This has happened to me in two separate JDWs, so I think it may be company policy. Good policy if so.

  2. Funny what you said about not wanting to critisise. Years and years (possibly millenia)ago a new manager took over what was then my local (the Albert, SE25) from Binnie Walsh who now has the Harp in Covent Garden. She didn't drink beer, her husband, Don, was TT (rumour had it that he was a dried out alkie) but they kept a bl**dy excellent pint.
    Under the new regime the quality of the beer got worse and worse (except the Green King Abbott which was his favourite). I kept on commenting at first, things like "This beer's not up to scratch but it's just about acceptable", only to be told that "Everybody else is o.k. with it". As it got worse I started asking for it to be changed, only to be told that there was nothing wrong with it.
    As my social life (cricket club, post Scout meeting beers etc) revolved around t'Bert I went on to the Guinness (bottled if available). The main point of this is that I was beginning to doubt my own ability to tell a good pint from a mediocre one or a bad one.
    Fortunately said Landlord moved on to a pub in Selhurst after a while. I had great delight when I heard that he'd been outside up a ladder changing a light bulb over the pub sign which was up a foot square wooden post at the edge of the pavement when the bottom of the post broke and he tumbled down onto the tables on the forecourt breaking his collar bone. The brewery replaced the post with a concrete on as the reckoned the old one had gone rotten due to a century of dogs cocking their legs against it.

  3. With the price of beer nowadays I shall criticise it as much as I like. If you want almost four quid for a pint it's got to be good.

  4. On an ale acetaldehyde is more likely to come from Zymomonas than lack of maturation. It's unlikely that this originated in the brewery as Fullers have good micro control. So this pub ruined a perfectly good beer then refused to take responsibility. Not good.

  5. Stuart — wasn’t talking about Fuller’s beer, there are two stories there, part two is acetaldehyde or whatever, not Fuller’s (enjoying MR at moment)

  6. What Barm said. If I bought a sandwich for the thick-end of a fiver, I'd take it straight back if it smelt of old socks. Beer should be no different.

    Haven't had the "it's meant to be that way" for a while, mercifully. The last occasion was a few years back at a big Fullers in Southwark when I was handed a pint of vinegar soup. Ended up having to get the manager involved before my pint was changed.

    Cellaring in the capital is definitely better than it was.

  7. Funnily enough, I've just posted on a similar subject.

    generally they'll give you a replacement, but only after making you feel like a hypercritical weirdo<<

    Phil - I'm not sure if that's better or worse than being refused a replacement at all!?

  8. I realise you werent talking Fullers and their quality control is usually superb , but I tipped a bottle of Fullers IPA the otherday as it was an acetaldehyde bomb, not good.

  9. I've rarely managed to get any kind of chat from the staff in a Fuller's pub. There's also something worrying about ordering a bottled beer and having them look completely confused as if they've never heard of the product you've named: "1840 what?"; "1845. There, in the fridge behind you -- there are about 20 bottles of it. Like on the poster on the wall. And in the menu." Training, training, training....