There are over 800 breweries in the UK – how many would you like to try a beer from?
My answer is over 800. I’d love to drink a beer from every brewery in the UK. Even better would be a couple of beers to see the range of what they make.
I’m guessing that some of it will be incredibly good, surprising, interesting and beers that I’d like to drink again and again. That’s why I’d like to try them all. But there will be a lot of beer made which isn’t delicious. Some will be badly brewed and should never be sold while others will be boring or lacking quality. And some beers will inevitably suffer at the hands of the pub serving it.
It’s a lottery of whether that pint you order is going to be good, which is why drinking in pubs you trust is a good start.
There are three London pubs I drink in more than any others: Southampton Arms, Craft and The Rake (there are others I trust but go to less often - I guess I'm too busy chasing hops in the beer bars). I trust these pubs to not put crap beer on the bar: they order beer from breweries which they know are good, they look after the beer and they sell it fast which is good for tap turnover. I know that I can go into one of these places and always get good beer. It’s not about the number of taps either: if these bars only had one keg line and one cask handpull then I’d still be confident that I’d get a good beer. And the selection isn’t just about finding new and over-hopped beers to drink, if a pub will always look after their beers and serve them in perfect condition then that’s as good as anything else. Finding places like that make me want to return regularly.
It’s hard to know if you can trust a new brewery or not (branding is a good start – if care and attention has gone to that then there’s more confidence in the beer) but by finding a good pub who you know chooses the best beer, there’s the safety net against a bad pint. It’s good to be able to walk into a pub and know there’ll be too many beers on that you’d like to drink.
At the same time, one of the great things about drinking in different pubs is the unexpected: the unexpected great pint, the unexpected great pub or the unexpected which happens inside them. Sometimes you have to take a hit with a bad or boring pint but there’s always another pub around the corner and you never know what you’ll find there.
Do you return to the pubs you trust for good beer more than searching out new pubs? Where are you most likely to drink beers from new breweries?