The Falstaff won a CAMRA award at this year’s Southport Beer Festival for the most innovative licensee. In many respects this award is deserved, as licensee Adrian Davies has certainly been innovative in attracting customers to his pub by hosting drama, rock bands, and the heats for the Southport’s Got Talent competition. The problem is that, as the award is a CAMRA one, there has to be real ale involved.
At the Falstaff on Saturday night when local rock band Fag Ash Lil was performing, there was only Wells Bombardier on offer (normally the range includes beers like Theakston’s Bitter and Deuchars IPA), and this ran out during the course of the evening. To my certain knowledge, this is the third time that the Falstaff has run out of real ale in the last couple of months.
I regret having to write this, as Adrian is a likeable person, but real ale drinkers aren't inclined visit a pub that has a reputation for running out of real beer. This pub has to decide whether it wants to be a serious real ale contender in Southport or not. If it does, then the first step must be to ensure that real ale is available at all times. The next step may well be to consider more interesting beers: a predictable PubCo range isn’t going to excite knowledgeable real ale drinkers, especially when a revitalised Wetherspoons just yards away is selling a bigger and more imaginative range at significantly lower prices. But the main thing is that a pub with a CAMRA award has to sell real ale, or otherwise give up any hopes of being taken seriously.