Thursday, 11 September 2014

The English Pub and Real Ale - What is Their Future?

 Perhaps you are a real ale fan or marvel at the beauty of England's historic pubs. If so this article may be of interest to you as it focuses on the cause and effect of pub closures throughout England.

 According to the British Beer and Pub Association over 17,000 pubs have closed since 1980. Many villages do not have an English Pub and the sale of beer in pubs has greatly declined. English pubs are unique structures that have been used and loved in England for centuries and continue to be admired abroad where the romantic image of English inns or taverns draws many tourists into this country.

 Each Pub was and continues to be the centre of many communities and as each pub shuts communities die and the access to traditional real ale diminishes. This also means good pubs are becoming more difficult to find.

 Each individual pub has its own history and distinct atmosphere. Each English pub has its own unique landlord who can in a lot of cases 'be the pub'.

 Also, by removing the ability to smoke in pubs some atmosphere has already been removed, but good traditional English pubs are still places where friends, family and children can meet to catch up and maintain their community. The explosion of cheap drink in supermarkets has also had a massive impact on pubs and many more people are now drinking cheaply at home and will continue to do so.

 Furthermore, the large hold that pub chains have over the market has an enormous effect on the small independent pub. However, the majority of the pubs within these chains have no character and no individuality.

 What is the government doing to resolve this problem? Do they really care?

 English pub buildings, have in a lot of cases, many centuries of history and can be traced back to Roman taverns through Saxon alehouses. Their signs and names hold tradition through the centuries and still conjure up images of the past. Traditional sports such as skittles, cards and billiards were created because of these pubs.

 These buildings are now being lost and in many cases demolished without planning permission to make way for financial services offices or shops. The heritage and sole of the country is being torn apart. Pubs are one of the few things, along with the royal family, that sets the country apart from others.

 A further potential factor in the closure of so many English pubs is the decrease in quality of the beer sold within them. A lot of beer drunk is tasteless and uninspiring.

 However, conversely the sale of traditional ale in pubs is on the increase and thus it is clear that there is a market for differing and tasteful real ale and it is the decision of the pubs concerned to ensure they offer a choice. Five or six different real ale's in all pubs should be the normal state of affairs.

 Furthermore, the type of real ale drinker has changed over the years. Many young people (a lot of them female) now drink real ale and the stereo type of the fat middle age real ale drinker has now disappeared. Therefore, the marketing of these products should become much more fruitful.

 Another factor in the likely increase in real ale sales in the coming years is the fact that a lot of it is produced locally by independent brewers and uses natural ingredients, with some of them being Organic. The purchasing of these real ale's is good for the local community as the money is maintained within the local area.

 At first glance it would appear that English pubs are dying out. The government needs to make strong decisions to keep the pubs alive so as to maintain communities, retain historical buildings and keep money spent locally.

 With the real ale independent companies starting to thrive and the quality of these real ale's being maintained (ale at the end of the day does taste great) there is hope that the decline of pubs may slow and that the numbers of pubs within England can be maintained at a sustainable level whilst offering quality.

 Young people are slowly moving towards the real ale traditional pubs and if landlords make sensible decisions and offer choice and quality at reasonable prices, pubs will be here to stay.

 If not, the country will be worse for it as if and when the last pub closes, the character of England will be gone forever.

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Sunday, 7 September 2014

By Heck - Great Heck Topaz 6%

What is this strange brew? A hasty decision at a crowded bar brings into question the brew skills at Great Heck Brewery founded in 2008 in the heart of the Selby coalfield. 

Choosing Topaz a hefty 6% dark orange IPA left a bitter after taste in more ways than one. First taste: Yeast First Look: A clearly unfinished ale with a beige head that resembled a still fermenting yeast culture.

Far too bitter, tasted like fresh bread slathered in grapefruit marmalade washed down with bitter coffee, an early morning taste clash that's hard to forget. Topaz hops should make for a grassy resinous flavour with tropical notes, this ale had ample resins but the top notes were lost amid the overwhelming base, bitterness and yeastiness.

Lets hope this was a poorly conditioned cask presented by an inexperienced publican. A recent tasting of Mosaic leads me to this conclusion. Mosaic is bright single hopped delight to the palette with a tropical fruit hit at a steady session strength at 4% These two ales are so far removed from each other its difficult to believe they emanate from the same brewery.

I will still continue to seek out Great Heck ales with great names such as Voodoo, Powermouse, Amish Mash, Dave and Black Jesus there is much imagination going into the work of the brewers. Lets hope one bad apple (or hop) has not spoiled the barrel.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

A Pint of Pernod? Don't Mind If I Do - Grafton Ales Dark Lady Porter

Propping up the bar and mulling this one over brings us all to the same conclusion. Pernod!

The paper thin laminated pump clip causes a stir of excitement on its first appearance, often poorly made pump clips offer the promise of a great brew from an even greater small brewery. Alas no such genius here.

Thinking 'surely this must be a bad barrel' and  'they can't have intended for it to taste like this' google got a bashing in the search for answers. And tragically it looks like others have had the same experience and at 4.0% its not even worth the time wading down to the bottom of the glass.

This could have been a great dark ale but with far too much aniseed hitting the senses it fails and unfortunately this barrel hit the sump.

Grafton Brewing Company started off behind the Packet Inn in Retford. Now  situated to the north end of Worksop they currently brew 100 barrels per week. The Grafton Hotel on Gateford Road in Worksop and Packet Inn in Retford sell their beers.
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