Quest for (Al)e quality 

Firstly let me apologise for my absence I shan’t make excuses but that said here’s my excuses I have had a bit of a technology fail that lost me a post I was about to send (always back up your data people) and then my blog on the beers of the North East became suddenly popular with the people of south America that led to a possible deal I was in talks about falling through as my site traffic numbers are no longer reliable. 

So I wanted to make it up to you all with a big new post about the amazing beers coming out just now and the great things happening in the Newcastle beer scene but unfortunately whilst there has been some great positives I feel I have to write a different and difficult article that I would much rather not be writing. 

There has been a explosion of craft and real ale in my geordie homeland and throughout the UK it’s been amazing seeing small beloved brewers grow and gain recognition, new brewers enter the scene with new ideas and general access to good beer becoming so easy (did you know tyneside cinema has 4 handpulls and 2 exclusive beers brewed for them by Wylam,  yup at a cinema). 

However as good as things are I feel a growing problem the standards at the top are getting higher but the standards at the bottom of the pyramid ain’t improving at the same speed and as far as I can speak from my experiences the gulf is growing. 

I was lucky enough to visit two beer festivals over the past week one is a large festival with many interesting beers from local and around the country,  however the beers came out looking like they had a head of fairy liquid that within the walk back to my seat was along with most of the flavour evaporated. 

Don’t get me wrong the fact we can attend such great festivals is brilliant and some of the reasons behind the problems have been explained but if you can’t showcase the beer at its best and it’s not making much money then it’s a bit of a head scratcher as to what is achieved overall. 

The second beer festival I attended was a much smaller event in a local pub with the usual 6 handpulls and another six extra, the beers were local brewers nothing you wouldn’t find in a decent bar year round but they had I’m happy to say been looked after and timed to be at perfection during the two days. 

So is the answer that we need more pubs selling the beer in smaller amounts but fresher?  Well unfortunately no as I have been finding the same in our regions pubs there are those that truly care for beer quality,  pubs that rarely if ever put a foot wrong but with the growth in availability of real and craft alike there are pubs that are now charging upwards of £5 for beers with no flavour left in them as a increasingly regular occupancy. 

This month seen a local brewer release a summer fruity beer that shall remain nameless I sampled this beer in four different places throughout town only finding it to taste fruity and fresh once. 

The problem is not limited to dispense and the old cask vs keg argument as in a very respected pub that stocks some interesting bottled beer I paid almost £5 for a 330ml bottle of beer that was past its printed best before date. When I pointed this out to the barman I got a shrug and a mumbled apology. 

I don’t know where our problem lies is it in training of staff or are the brewers pushing beer near the end of its life to help fund expansions or under pressure from increased competition or is it distribution in between not up to the job? I don’t have that answer but I feel if it continues as it almost certainly will then in a few years the bubble will burst as less people covert to over priced under loved beer and the best survive and the rest disappear. A great opportunity lost like so many others due to suspected penny pinching. 

Is this beautiful growth industry just a bandwagon that’s about to burst under the weight of so many jumpers or can anything be done. 

I don’t believe anyone goes to work each morning aiming to pour a poor pint and I don’t believe anyone plans to brew a dud however taste and quality are hard to define and who are you or I to take a pub or brewery to task on this in the end the only way we can express displeasure is with our wallets and don’t we have enough pubs closing already? 
Sorry to bring you all down next post in a week or so shall be about a interesting beer so look out for that and thank you to surprising amount of people reading this 

Cheers as always

North by north yeast


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north by north yeast

young ale drinker and camra mamber blogging about the north east beer scene