How to.. Spot a Good Beer Pub

Posted: 04 October 2013

Blog category: Cask Ale Week

Look outside first of all. Is it displaying a Cask Marque plaque? That’s a good start. This means that the beer in this pub is being independently and regularly tested by a Cask Marque beer inspector to make sure the beer is of the highest quality. Over 8,500 pubs in the UK display this plaque so you should find a pub near you.

Good beer pubs always put quality over quantity. If a pub has six cask ale hand pulls but only a handful of customers in every night, warning bells should sound. Each cask of ale needs to be sold within three days, so if trade is quiet, the pub will cut down the number of cask beers on the bar to ensure enough is sold to ensure the beer is fresh.

Good cask ale pubs train their staff well and ensure they have some knowledge about the product they are selling, for example, the strength, the colour, where the beer comes from. And they always offer customers a sample of beer before they buy it, if requested. A small taster of beer reassures the customer that they like the flavour and that the beer is of good quality. Staff should also be confident to recommend a beer if you’re not sure what to try.

Look out for key messages about cask ale in the pub – do all the handpulls have a pump clip on? Are the cask ales advertised on a chalk board, or on beer menus?

Is the beer served in a cool, clean, correctly branded glass?

Look around you. Are lots of other customers drinking cask ale?

Lastly – standards. Cask ale is a fresh, unpasteurised food product which needs to kept in sterile conditions. Good cask ale pubs reflect these standards of hygiene across the board – the customer area, the staff, the food they serve, even the toilets! Clean, well run pubs usually serve the best quality cask ale.

To find a great cask ale pub, get a copy of the Good Beer Guide, issued by the Campaign for Real Ale. Or download ‘Caskfinder’ a free app which lists all the Cask Marque accredited pubs in the UK.