I've tried to steer clear of the cask VS keg argument. I'm a firm believer that good beer is good beer. The way to find good beer is try lots of beer. One of the best ways to do that is to go to a good beer festival. Hold that thought.
So what am I looking forward to in 2012, a
question I first asked myself after reading Mark Dredge's blog here. Now he knows his stuff, but I thought I'd have a go from over here on the Welsh borders.
1) Local breweries.
I'm blessed to be situated where I am. Breweries 'local' to me as operated by our local branch of CAMRA include (in no particular order)
Wye Valley - a strong 'family brewer' sized brewery. Key descriptive word: Consistent - Butty Bach has never left the bar, and I can't see that changing.
Brecon Brewing - the brewery may have just been established, but Buster the Brewer has certainly been established for years. Cracking core range, small, close and friendly enough to let me play regularly. I'm looking forward to brewing a house ale soon.
Otley Brewery - I'm not allowed to describe them as the Welsh version of a Scottish brewery, and to be fair that wouldn't do them justice. They think in terms of beer evolution, as opposed to beer revolution. I've just taken out Erdinger in favour of their O7 Weissbier on the kegs, and I'm deadly serious about putting their CreosO on instead of a Copenhagen beer if they ever keg it. The best thing about these guys is they really do let the beer do the talking.
So straight off, I've got 3 excellent breweries, each offering something different and each of which will be regularly available. I've also lined up regular beer tastings and variants, starting with Brecon in Feb, Wye Valley in March and Otley in April.
2) Better Service
Something I'm a stickler for when I'm a customer, and a huge factor in the Value for Money stakes. With trading conditions likely to remain difficult, the days of just plonking a pint on the bar without saying more than 4 words to the customer are well and truly behind us. I love the opportunities I get to drink in London as the pubs I visit, and go well out of my way to visit, are ones that get these simple things right. A personal recommendation to publicans who sell many different beers/ales - get rid of branded glasses, or get your own branding on glasses. We've done this for the last 3 years on ales, keg should be this year. Apart from anything else, when someone nicks/buys one off you, their advertising your pub for you.
3) Better Anti Alcohol propaganda
Possibly I haven't phrased that correctly, but a more realistic approach is something I think the industry could get behind. I've often laughed at the notion that more than a pint and a half is 'binge drinking' and the concept of units. The latest suggestion from government advisers isn't laughable either - ditch the daily recommended limits, which handily ignore the simple fact that alcohol affects every single person slightly differently. Instead recommend that people have a couple of dry days a week.
This sensible advice may or may not have anything to do with Alcohol Concern's Don Shenker stepping down after their funding was cut.
I'm going to limit myself to these top three, as I'd love to know what you think the future holds for pubs and good beer. And what do you consider to be the best beers out there at the moment, brewed in the UK?
Apologies for the poor layout settings of the blog, Blogger have decided to dick around with their editor taking out key features such as resizing pictures.