Sunday 15 November 2009

Falstaff runs out of beer ~ again

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.


  1. I hadn't been to the Falstaff for along while until last Sunday
    (8th)- when I was amazed to find only Bombadier on offer. Assumed it was a one-off but patently, it wasn't! It isn't good enough really is it? I won't be rushing back.

  2. I wonder .... how many of you auctually run a pub or have run a pub previously? It's a fair question is it not?

    My second question re: 'A predictable Pub Co Range', I can only persume you all have an inside and in depth knowledge of Adrian's lease agreement with Scottish & Newcastle. If you do have this knowledge then why moan?

    There have been plenty of CAMRA Good Beer Guide pubs that only offer 'A predictable Pub Co range' and there still is!

    To compare a single pub business on King St against a managed Weatherspoons house found on Lord St, one that has vast enormous buying power, is not quite right. It would be like comparing Southport FC to LFC.

    I agree a pub should not have a reputation for running out of beer and indeed beers should always be in excellent condition however it is all too easy to sit at your computer and put down a business in more ways than one.

    How many of you have thought about supporting The Falstaff and Adrian rather than make comments that he run out of beer on a couple of occasions?

    A concerned fellow Licensee.

  3. Concerned licensee: you ask about my experience of running a pub. Fair question, and the answer is I have none, and as I am writing a local beer and music blog, I don’t need any. Surely you’re not suggesting that no one can comment on any business unless they have worked for it? Have you never criticised the council, a shop or supermarket, BT, a restaurant, the bus or train company, the post office, the DSS, the Inland Revenue, or any other organisation?

    You have separated my point about the range of beers from the comment about the proximity with Wetherspoons, but they were one point in the same sentence. I fully understand that an S&N pub cannot compete on an even playing field with a Wetherspoons. My point was that real ale drinkers aren’t going to flock into the Falstaff when a nearby Wetherspoons has a greater range of beers at lower prices, particularly if they can’t even be certain that real ale will be on. I wasn’t saying, “Why can’t the Falstaff be like Wetherspoons?” I was saying customers would vote with their feet and wallets. This is a fact, not a judgment.

    You have also ignored my point that the Falstaff received a CAMRA award just two months ago, even though I emphasised this award with bold font and italics to make it crystal clear that my comments were to be taken with that in mind. I wouldn’t have written anything at all about the Falstaff if it hadn’t received this award. I do know Adrian has asked the local Branch how he can get in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. The award and the GBG aspirations are the whole basis of my posting, because a pub with a CAMRA award should not run out of beer. Obviously the occasional slip up can happen, but this is looking like rather more than that. If you want to get CAMRA awards or get into the GBG then this is not the way to go about it.

    You ask why I don’t support the Falstaff? How do you know I don’t? In fact I have, but not recently, because I find the beer range uninteresting, but it has been my local in the past. I did have a chat with Adrian a while ago about his choice of beers and he said he had no intention of trying to vary the standard PubCo range ~ fair enough, but the competition won’t go away, like it or not.

    I hope this answers your concerns.


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