Does that score a 2 or a 3 Philip?
We have been in The Good Beer Guide every year since we arrived at The Prince. Indeed we put a good deal of effort into keeping our beer in the best possible condition. We even throw away almost 10,000 pints a year making sure our beer lines are cleaned, our beer is fresh and leaving the last few pints in the bottom of the barrel. Believe me keeping 10 cask ales on tap is not easy!
Despite these difficulties, in 4 years I don’t remember a single customer bringing a pint of badly kept beer back to the bar. OK one or two near the bottom of the barrel did slip through and occasionally a new member of staff missed a little haze. That’s all. In fact many customers tell us that we keep a fantastic pint of ale. Thank you to all our customers for spreading our reputation for keeping good beer.
Last week I learned the good news from my local Camra branch that The Prince “had just scraped in” to next year’s good beer guide. I was angry but not surprised. Just scraped in indeed!
It was explained what I already know (I am a Camra member myself) ie that Camra now use a beer scoring system: each time a member visits a pub, he/she fills out a score for each pint they drink. On this system 5 is the highest and is hardly ever awarded and 0 is undrinkable. The data are collated by the local Camra branch.
The Prince scored the minimum 3 out of 5 to qualify for the Guide (the Old Mo didn’t even make it). In some ways this is OK as this mark means “Good beer in good form; worth another pint.” We believe our beer is often better than this. We believe our beer often merits a mark of 4. Not always but often. Do you agree?
We think that many of Camra’s beer anoraks mark the Prince down. You see the Prince isn’t their sort of pub … its too popular, too mainstream and our beer list simply isn’t weird enough to keep the tickers (drinkers who collect new beers and tick them off a list) happy. Instead of stocking the latest indulgence of some new microbrewery, we sell the best cask beers in the land. The Beer Anoraks don’t like this.
Take tonight’s cask beers and what we had on offer:
Timothy Taylor Landlord: now this is a great pint and it’s won Camra’s own Champion Beer award more times than any other beer. But no interest to anyone who wants the latest micro brew. Castle Rock Harvest Pale is this year’s Champion Beer of Great Britain. Yes its been around for a few years but that doesn’t detract from its brilliance. Thornbridge Jaipur is simply an amazing beer that’s won many awards, as has Purity Gold and UBU.
Now we come to the nub of the problem … many of our beers are too commercial for Beer Snobs. St Austell Tribute and Greene King Abbot are great examples of their particular beer styles but I bet there’s not many Camra committee members who can get excited about a pint of Tribute that’s on great form. Yet the God of Beer himself (and editor of the Good Beer Guide) Roger Protz clearly loves a pint of Tribute as he said “Tribute is a magnificent example of a bronze coloured English bitter”.
Now the two other beers on our list, Sharp’s Doom Bar and Charles Wells Bombardier, are not my personal favourites but our customers love them and we sell almost 100 brewers barrels of Bombardier a year. That’s over 28,000 pints!
Lets put the beer to one side for a moment; after all The Good Beer Guide is really about finding a good pub. So now that Camra use this system, our outstanding staff, friendly atmosphere, community events, massive beer garden, the biggest heated smoking area in Chrisendom, real fires, cocktail lounge, our range of 30 Belgian Beers, 40 premium rums and 40 malts are all irrelevant.
So we intend to take Camra on over this and introduce our own Beer Score Cards. Could we ask that whenever you come in the Prince and drink a pint of cask, you fill in a card and place it in the box on the bar. Every Monday night we will draw out a card and the winner will receive The Gaffer’s Gallon – 8 pints of his/her favourite beer on the house.
We already know our beer’s good; together you can help us make sure its always great.
The Prince Beer Score Card