You’re probably sick of me banging on about the dire state of beer in Bideford. I know I am. Despite the town being in part of the country studded with micro and regional breweries, it’s hard to find a decent pint in the towns and villages on the Torridge Estuary. True to form, I had three miserable pints at the Kingsley, the local in the village near to where my in-laws live. Doom Bar, Bombardier and Exmoor Gold. All as dull as ditchwater, in that annoying condition where you can’t quite justify returning them to the bar. The Kingsley is a Cask Marque pub, which only reinforces my opinion that the Marque can’t be trusted as a badge of reliability. It was a similar story down the hill at the (un-Marque) Village Inn, Westward Ho. Another grim pint of Doom. Eggy and flat. Could it be that drinkers in Bideford forgotten what a beer in good condition tastes like, and just put up with whatever is served?
It got better, though. On the friday of our visit we had one of those nights which starts with the notion of a couple of brewskys and home for tea, but ends up with a kebab, cab, and a sore head. We were in the White Hart, a 17th century pub on a backstreet off Bideford quay. It’s a tiny place that’s had it’s ups and downs over the years but is now seems to be back on form. The pumps usually have a couple of the local (and unexciting) Jollyboat ales and a guest, which on our visit was Hartland Forge IPA. It was without doubt the best pint I’ve supped in twenty years of visiting. Prime condition, fresh and bitingly hoppy – everything an IPA should be. Haven’t been that surprised since I saw Bill Clinton sat in a pub in Covent Garden. So that was that, from 5 until closing. Sadly, Dexter, the ancient collie that used to loll about in front of the fire like an animated rug has passed away since our last visit. One of the Jollyboat pumps was dedicated as a memorial. Cheers, Dex.
>Hi there, my name is Al and I work for Cask Marque.We accept any criticism of Cask Marque and the beers you have sampled, but we would be very grateful if you could keep us posted on any poor beer you sample in Cask Marque pubs.We visit each pub twice a year or more but still rely heavily on the experienced consumer to let us know when they suffer poor beer quality. We can then send one of our guys in to try and rectify the problem.Your feedback on beers you sample would be most welcome. In the meantime I will ask one of our assessors to go in and see if he can help liven the beer up.Kind regardsAlastair
>Hello Al, thanks for getting in touch. Nice to know Cask Marque are being pro-active. This isn't a very widely-read blog so I'm impressed you found my post. Do you have an email I can contact you on? You can contact me at email@example.com
>Look Al: pay no attention to Wheels's claim not to be widely read…I mean I live in Norfolk, so that's pretty wide! Apart from which, it's the influence he exerts…..
>Influence? I can't even persuade our postman to put my contact lenses through the letterbox instead of me going to the sorting office to pick the damn things up every month.
>Hey, I know exactly what you mean about beers that are just a bit cack, but not actually off. I tend to sigh, leave them, go to another pub, and chalk it up to experience.Al — you have done Cask Marque's reputation a lot of good in my eyes by chipping in here. I suspect you would be inundated if you had a link on the CM website where people could tip you off about slightly tired pints…
>Hi Guys, sorry for the delay, our internet router died! It's always interesting as well as important for us to chat to people on forums and via blogs. Anyone who participates in these things is potentially an ambassador for us, if we can persuade them we are doing something worthwhile.In an ideal world our criteria for pubs would be even stricter but we need to balance it with having a business that doesn't fold and retaining credibility from the public and trade. As we get more pubs on board we are able to use our influence within the corporate world to get them to pay more attention to quality and invest some money in equipment and training.Anyway, Bailey thanks for your idea, a hotlink for the public to comment on beer quality is a good idea, it's just a matter of being able to control their expectations on feedback and chit-chat! Watch this space…CheersAl