Thursday, November 28, 2013

House beer - Is it cheating the punter ?

On a recent posting, the house beer at the Yetton Cask was mentioned, and seems to have sparked a bit of a debate. Should the provenance of the beer be available for the drinker or not, and in the wider sense does it really matter ?

As a drinker, I don't really think it does. If the beer is good and consistent, and the drinker knows what to expect, and he is happy with it it is fair enough. Lots of pubs have 'house beers' that fit that description, always on the bar so that the drinker knows there is something to fall back on. We all know of 'White Rat' drinkers who rarely, if ever, change from their choice of tipple, likewise 'Brewers Gold' or 'Ringmaster' drinkers - it all depends on which is your regular watering hole. And I can see no problem with this, but where the Yetton Cask is different is that they do not identify the brewer. And I must admit that I cannot really understand why. 

As a 'ticker' it becomes a little more disconcerting. Firstly, all my beers are listed under breweries, and one without messes up my list. That's how sad I am ! But in 20 plus years of ticking I only have 4 beers listed without a brewery so it is fairly rare. What annoys me is the rebadging of beers for individual pubs so that the same beer is sold in different pubs under different names. Ossett have been, or may still be guilty of this, with the same beer badged for the pub in which it is sold. On first appearances the beer is different but with a bit of digging you discover that you have 'ticked' the same beer in four different pubs under four different names. Why can't they just call it the same thing ?

But seriously, does it matter ? I actually don't think it does, provided the product is good, and consistent, and the drinker is happy with it and knows what he getting. And if occasionally there is no brewery shown, your average drinker will not be bothered, he will order by the beer name rather than brewery usually. And as a bonus the 'house beer' is sometimes cheaper than the rest of the beers, which cannot be bad. 


Bailey said...

There was a pub in London a few years back whose 'house lager' turned out to be (I think) Coors Light.

Cooking Lager said...

All for cheaper grog.

Curmudgeon said...

In a sense the point of a house beer is that it appeals to either regular drinkers or the occasional "let's just pop in for a meal" customer rather than the hardened beer enthusiast, ticker or not.

Squire Neil said...

Think less... drink more! And stop ticking ;)

Anonymous said...

Agree with most as usual but . . .

You could get into a situation where a pub may have its house beer brewed by a localish brewer - say Pheonix, and then without changing the name of the beer, may start having the beer brewed by a national - say Tetley's.


Sapphire Blue

Jibber said...

I'm deeply suspicious of any pub which is not prepared to reveal the source of its house beer. What on earth is the rationale behind such a decision?

Most pubs will tell you where their house beers come from (eg Dirty Dick's (Halifax) house beer is from Empire). Why would a pub withhold such information unless a) the pub is slightly ashamed of its choice of brewer or b)it's changing its supplier every now and then?

Whatever the case, it leads to rumour, suspicion and mistrust. Why go go a pub serving 'Brand X' when you can go to another pub, the provenance of whose beers is known and trusted?

The result? Well I know a lot of people who are not prepared to buy a 'pig in a poke', and, given the Yeaton Cask's relative remoteness, simply won't bother to go up there. It's a shame, because it's a decent pub.

In every pub in Huddersfield that I visit, I know exactly what I'm drinking. In the Yeaton Cask, I don't, so I err on the safe side, and avoid.