|What's all the fuss about guest beers?
Aren't they just funny names?
Why not stick to what we know?
You might walk into a good free house and see a good range of cask ales on a row of hand pumps, and wonder what all the fuss is about. But many areas of the country have been in the grip of regional or national brewers, with the same beer in pub after pub. Not so long ago, you had to drive for over half an hour from some spots in Cheshire to find anything other than Greenalls!Such concentration of power led to abuses of the monopoly. Popular ales could be axed at the whim of the brewery accountant, and many pubs, like Bass ones lost all of their real ales, turning into desolate keg-infested deserts.
The trend to fewer and fewer, heavily-promoted national "brands" has led to a serious lack of choice. At the same time, those brands have been modified, to remove distinctive taste, and impose a characterless uniformity on the long suffering public, no matter where they are.
No-one who remembers the hoppy, tasty Boddington's
Bitter of 25 years ago will comment favourably on the insipid pale shadow
if its former glory we see on a decreasing number of bars these days.
Amazingly, CAMRA was successful in its campaign to alert the public to the dangers of this creeping commercial death, and to the delights of tasty, local brews. While many of our smaller producers struggle to find a foothold in this cut-throat business world, they do offer us a wonderful choice of around 3000 real ales. The last decade or so has seen the number of Cheshire craft breweries increase from four to 25.
So, next time you see a name you don't recognise on the pump-clip, give it a try. It is unlikely to be boring, bland, predictable or depressing. And it might be absolutely superb!
Remember the rules of good hospitality;
treat your guests with respect!