Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Too Many Taps?

Being a man that likes his beer and prefers drinking it in a pub, you can imagine that I have rather forthright opinions on what makes a good pub, especially when it comes to what is on tap and how I know about it.

Firstly, more is not necessarily better. The number of times I have gone into one of my regular boozers and been thoroughly unimpressed by the beer selection is starting to disturb me, and when I say "regular" I am including a couple of places in South Carolina. Having more than 10 beers is all well and good, but when the selection of beers flowing from those taps is 7 American Pale Ales, 2 American IPAs and Guinness, then the pub is lacking a vital balance, and usually I end with a couple of pints of Guinness and an earlyish night.

Secondly, and kind of leading on from the first, regardless of the number of taps you have make it plain what is actually available. There is one pub in Columbia, South Carolina which is particularly bad for this kind of thing. Unless you are sat right at the bar then all you have to go on is an out of date menu and a blackboard with scrawly writing which is difficult to read from a distance of more than 2 inches. If a pub is going to insist on having an ever changing line up of beer then I hope they built printing costs into their business plan for keeping customers informed. I actually wonder if this is one of the reasons why trips to Columbia now usually entail going to a small brewpub that has 5 beers on tap at any one time?

While talking about keeping customers informed about what's available, a major pet peeve of mine is those pubs that have a website and then don't keep it up to date, but that's a different post altogether.

From my perspective, and I am sure I have mentioned this before, the optimal number of taps in a pub is 6, broken down as follows:
  • 2 Permanent taps, stout and pale lager
  • 2 Seasonal taps, preferably from breweries within 100 miles of the pub
  • 2 Random taps
Having only 6 taps also allows for a less time consuming cleaning regimen, having clean lines and taps being absolutely essential. If I had my own pub I would clean all the lines at least once a week, and if necessary between kegs on the seasonal and random taps.

I wonder how many places overstretch themselves, thinking they need dozens of shiny taps and funky tap handles to attract customers?

* - the picture of stout there is not Guinness, it is Starr Hill Dark Starr - possibly my favourite Virginia brewed stout.


  1. Good posting, If they could the web sites that would be a postive moved. But the minimum is that the.lines are clean

  2. We've gone with six beer engines and six guest gas taps. This gives the non-cask punters some choice. The guest taps are constantly changing and are assigned as follows:

    - A West Coast IPA (this is Oregon - have to have this)
    - Something pale, yellow and fizzy, such as a pale, pilsner or imported lager
    - Something dark in the ale family, usually a stout but sometimes a porter
    - A seasonal with a reasonable ABV
    - An expensive, high ABV weirdo, which is often an imperial IPA or a Belgian and served by the half
    - A cider

    And you've shamed me into updating my website list.


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