Don Kavanagh: No excuses for bad beer

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Guinness is being let down by some pubs that serve it stale, finds Don Kavanagh.

Breweries should keep an eye on pubs to ensure they are not serving beer that has gone off. Photo / Thinkstock
Breweries should keep an eye on pubs to ensure they are not serving beer that has gone off. Photo / Thinkstock

It can be a hard life keeping one's standards up.

Once you get used to quality it's tough to have to settle for the mediocre, but that's what has been happening a lot recently.

I'm referring to quality control in bars, or rather the lack of it.

I have felt a bit let-down by some bars recently after spending good money on a beer and finding it to be stale, something that should never happen.

It's most obvious with Guinness, which gets a rather sharp, bitter taste if it's in anything but good condition and I've noticed quite a few bars recently where the Guinness was absolutely manky, there's no other word for it.

Keeping a decent pint of Guinness isn't exactly on a par with brain surgery - keep the lines clean and pour plenty of it - but it seems to be beyond some people. If you can't sell enough Guinness in your pub to stop it going off, perhaps you'd be better off with something that sells a bit quicker.

And the customers certainly would. Guinness has worked extremely hard to build its image and it's being let down by poor pints being presented to unsuspecting punters. It's not just causing damage to Guinness, it's also doing a bit of damage to the drinker, as a few beers will engender such a keen interest in the whereabouts of the nearest loo as an iffy pint of stout.

It's symptomatic of modern business in many ways. It's all about appearances and marketing rather than substance and if bar owners can't do the very basic things right - like making sure they aren't pouring bad beer - then you really have to wonder how they cope with the complicated things.

The breweries should be keeping a closer eye on this, too, as it's their beer that is being abused. It's all very well to hand out certificates saying the bar has achieved a certain standard when such things are not being followed up on. I've stood underneath just such a certificate recently while a dodgy pint went about its evil work.

Thankfully, there are still bars around that care about the old ways and in some you will even find the early shift taking a mouthful of ale before opening to check the quality.

Now that's good service.

- Herald on Sunday

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