Sunday, September 25, 2011

Good Pub Guide

It seems there is a good pub guide that may have good bad. Well, some people seem to be in disarray with a change in how entries are placed within the guide.

Pubs to be entered were anonymously inspected by the editor, deputy editor, or both prior to entry. My 1996 edition listed Alisdair Aird, editor; Fiona May, deputy editor, Robert Unsworth, research officer and Karen Fick, editorial research. Alisdair and Fiona are listed on the current cover but Fiona appears to be married now.

The article in the Daily Mail suggests that publicans can gain entry to the guide (new for the 2012 edition) by supplying cash. At most this could be misleading and appear to be unethical. It is not illegal. There are two ways to look at guides. I post a page on my site for bars in the South Side (of Pittsburgh, Pa.).

I note that it is not a review and only a directory. I do not accept advertizing or cash, although I have never been offered any. Perhaps it is a testament to the greatness of my post? All the work is mine and I write what I want. CAMRA puts out a Good Beer Guide that lists pubs that must adhere to one basic policy note that the Pub Guide does not require: serving of real ale is a must. Any publication can set its own rules as long as it makes them clear to the people buying the publication.

What the Good Pub Guide is doing is not advertizing. But is does seem to be moving away from its original goal of supplying first hand information about pubs. The 2012 issue will do what my site does; help you find a pub. It will no longer guarantee a “good” pub as a “good” pub that has not paid may be excluded but a “bad” pub will be included. As long as you know money has been given for entry, are you fine with the book? Would you buy it for its intended purpose implied by the title? What about the Good Movie Review or Good Food Restaurants? Has the guide’s credibility been tarnished? Only you can decide.

One more thing: if a pub is going to pay, should the pub have something to say about content? Do pubcos pay more for greater control of content and editorial criticisms? When does the guide loose all control? Having money coming in to this can be a game changer.


Good Beer Guide from CAMRA

Good London Guide from me

Monday, September 19, 2011

Matured Cask Ale at Piper's Pub

I popped into Piper’s Pub tonight (19 September 2011) for a bite to eat and the cask ales. Well, a bite to eat was almost secondary to the beer but it was a good drizzly night for Sheppard’s Pie. My last beer was my favorite: Rivertowne Brown Eyed Finley. This beer on cask tonight was the best example to define the difference between matured beer and off beer. A beer that is off has a sour taste, or flavors other than malt: butterscotch, cardboard, whatever. Finley was matured at Piper’s in the cask cellar and although as it was a bit sour it was not off.

As I took my first sip I was instantly stopped. What was this I was drinking? Was it bad? No! It was what English Brown Ale was meant to taste like. I told Hart, the bartender about my experience and he said: “you are an English Brown Ale drinker”. Decades of drinking in England paid off.

In reading what brown ale once was in England, I seldom found any to comply with the old descriptions: lactic sourness (unlike bitterness). This was not Newcastle. It had a pronounced, yet pleasant tang that gave the beer an exciting difference to ordinary bitter or IPA. It was a textbook example of authentic English Brown Ale of days far gone. The Finley did not start out this was but as it sat in a cask with a soft spile, it oxidized over time. This isi one reason caskbeer can’t sit forever like keg beer. A spile is a wood peg driven into cask to permit carbon dioxide gas to escape, or to stop it. As this beer matured over time it did have a slight, but noticeable tang to it. To be sure, this was not a bad flavor but one that should be relished, as I did tonight. It gave the beer a nice mouth feel and excited my taste buds. It was though my buds were having sex with beer.

Original porters (an off-shoot of brown ale) were matured in the same manner causing a lactic sourness to differentiate it from other beers of the day. As a young beer, brown would be void of any real flavor until it matured. Sadly, in today’s market the maturity would be short lived. The Finley sitting in a cask for nine days came to adulthood this night. I hope it comes back to Piper’s cellar, as the way it was conditioned was the prime example as how a beer should be handled. Thank you Drew and the cellar men (and to Hart) who know how to handle real beer. What a shining example of well-made beer handled properly by people who know proper beer.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

London Bus Live Departure Times

I updated this on my Good-London-Guide as follows:

Transport for London has a new (albeit beta version) page that allows one to see the arrival time of your next bus at ANY stop in London. It is located here:, and some stops may be inaccurate. It is to be officially released by TfL in the fall of 2011. The site also shows you recently viewed stop by you and allows you to add your favorites so you can see without re-entering locations each time.