|They'll be in that pub for |
a cool pint afterwards!
If real ale is too warm, it loses its natural conditioning and is flat and tasteless; some people describe that state as "flabby". If it's too cold, you won't get the subtle flavours; the taste is merely an unsophisticated approximation of what it should be. If I had to choose, I'd prefer too cold because the beer will in time warm up in the glass to the correct temperature. In such situations, I've occasionally bought my next pint well before I've finished the first in the hope that it will be just right by the time I get round to it.
What I don't like is beer that is too warm. It feels wrong in the mouth, in the way a cold cup of coffee would, and its taste is out of balance with astringent flavours more to the fore. In short, it's not particularly nice. With modern cooling techniques, there really isn't any excuse for beer that is too warm, so how come we still sometimes get served it? I suppose the obvious reason is the failure of pub owners to invest in equipment. Pubcos are the worst because they have a ludicrous business that is based on enormous debt, and they begrudge spending a penny more than they absolutely have to. In extreme cases, they'd prefer to let a pub decline than invest in it, and then get a bonanza when they sell it for redevelopment.
I regard £3 a pint as dear, the result of greed by both pubcos and Chancellor, but it's either pay that or not drink real ale in a pub. Drinking beer at home has little attraction for me, because going to the pub is not a shopping trip - it's part of my social life. If I am to pay pub prices, I am less tolerant of imperfections, such as the wrong temperature, short measures, the beer being out of condition or, in extreme cases, actually off. I am surprised when I read on beer blogs stories in which an imperfect pint is left on the bar and the writer quietly walks out. Not much use whingeing about it afterwards on the internet, chaps.
The current heat wave is showing up those pubs that don't have satisfactory cellars or decent cooling equipment. Most real ale drinkers will have a fallback drink, such as lager, Guinness, cider or wine, but for me, all of these are unsatisfactory substitutes. If a pub can't serve decent pint, then I'd prefer not to spend my cash there. In this weather, I don't think you can beat a nice, cool, dry pint of real ale: it shouldn't be a lottery as to whether you get it.