If your favorite beer tastes poor, this could be the reason. If you are new in a pub or if you detect a troubling ester in a familiar beer, check the same beer at another pub, then talk to the manager, but don’t expect much thanks. The last time I identified that taste and told the manager, he was unable to relate to the danger. I’ve not returned to that place. Apparently Portland no longer enforces that line-cleaning ordinance, or it has been repealed as I’ve been told, but all of my favorite haunts seem to be taking good care of their lines.
We have at least one tavern here now that has 100 taps. 100! That’s far more than most pubs can manage. None of the servers could tell me when the beers had gone on draft or when they should be taken off. Of course, none of them could identify problems. In any case, we can conclude that 100 is more than any one establishment can handle.
Our world-famous Horse Brass British-style tavern has about 50 taps. The beer is always great, the staff knowledgeable and the customers happy. The management knows better than to offer beer on 100 taps.
There are other things one should know about the local tavern. Get to know the owner-manager; it never hurts to be friendly and sometimes it can get you free beer, too. A friendly barkeep would appreciate your concern about his operation, no matter what the problem. Just as in the search for a friendly beer retailer, one needs to cherish a good pub keeper, and for similar reasons. Beer is beer, and it doesn’t travel well. The larger the selection, the more opportunity for system failure. A good selection is not necessarily a large selection. Your bartender should be willing and able to tell you how long a particular keg has been on, and the ABV as well. If it has been on longer than a week, maybe you should make another selection. Ask for a small sample to be sure. As multiple-tap bars become more widespread across the country, the opportunities for problems expand. The more taps there are, the more likely the beer will have been on too long, but more taps also offer you a better opportunity to find a fresh beer to enjoy. Most craft beers are unpasteurized, hence they are fresher tasting but more perishable. Be fussy. Your friendly bar manager should be happy to advise you on his best possibilities and offer samples of his beers. A knowledgeable bar staff is your best defense against bad beer. When you find such a place, cherish the owner, his manager and staff. Reward them with your patronage and friendship. Tip them generously.