Those readers who subscribe to another beer web site may already be aware of this, but I thought it makes an interesting point, so bear with me.
Last weekend a pub in Salford had a beer from Elland brewery on the bar called 'Greland' - it is a seasonal special and described as a 'robust porter' on the pump clip. I was there but did not try it, so I am writing from someone else's experience, but the beer served from the pump was a light IPA style beer. Obviously, some confusion then. A check of the barrel revealed that it was labelled 'Greland', a check at the brewery revealed that they had sold it to a wholesaler as 'Greland' and had no reason to disbelieve what came out of the barrel would not be 'Greland', so what has happened? The obvious answer is that no one knows.
This does lead to an interesting point though. If we are collecting beers by name, are we sure we are getting what we believe through the pump ?
There are all sorts of reasons why there may be confusion. Has the brewer labelled the barrel correctly? Does the point of sale information match up with the information on the barrel? Has the barperson actually served you the right beer? You can see now that this is a non exact science. There are at least three reasons why what is in your glass may not be what you assume it is.
The 'Greland' example is easy to spot, a porter and an IPA are different colours to kick off with. I have been told of a case recently in a local pub where a busy barman managed to confuse Tetleys with Black Sheep, as they are on adjoining pumps, and personally, I have accidentally served 'Landlord' instead of Taylor's 'Best'. It is not difficult to confuse beers in a pub cellar either. Two identical casks with a small label that has been damaged in transit sometimes make it difficult to differentiate between the casks, especially for beers that you are unfamiliar with.
I am not suggesting that anyone is being unprofessional, or deliberately misleading, merely that mistakes sometimes happen like in any walk of life. It is not a big event in the scheme of things, just a little irritating at the time. Just makes you think, how many of the beers I have drunk in pursuit of my hobby are not exactly what I believed them to be. Hopefully very few, but you never know do you!!