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Great that King’s Lynn area pubs are reopening but bar staff need training





In his weekly The Bar Man column, Jeff Hoyle visits some re-opened pubs...

There has been good news about several local pubs in the past few months. In the current climate, the hospitality industry has never been more difficult, but I can think of half a dozen or more pubs in and around Lynn that have reopened after a period of closure or been taken on by new management when the odds were that at the future of at least some of them would be under threat.

Job done, then and I can stand down? Not quite. My experience of visiting some of these has been mixed. We chose one of the recently opened ones for a CAMRA meeting a month or two back, and while it had three ales on the bar, they were either in poor condition or they ran out during the evening. The barmaid was very pleasant but inexperienced and had to phone for outside help to deal with the situation, which was eventually accomplished by another member of staff being summoned to the site to change a barrel.

Jeff Hoyle
Jeff Hoyle

Added to that was a low ambient temperature in the bar and smoke wafting in through an open door. I gave the place another chance when I had half an hour to kill before a meeting nearby, but despite standing at the bar and wandering around the pub I could find nobody around to serve me, so I gave up, though on another occasion I had a pint of Cheeky Jack which was as good as anything I have drunk all year.

Out in a village pub, we were delivering the latest edition of our magazine, Norfolk Nips, and were pleased to see a couple of beers on the bar. I opted for a pint of Ghost Ship, but was not very impressed as it was clearly well beyond its best. The staff were great about this and swapped it for a pint of Cambridge Gold, which I was assured was a new barrel that had just been put on the bar, and that ‘the gas had been changed’ which rather puzzled me. I took a sip, and it was one of the most unpleasant experiences I have ever had while drinking beer. Had the remains of the last barrel been pulled through and the beer checked for taste and clarity? Possibly not. Once again, I could not fault the reaction of the staff who generously did not charge for the Bar Wife’s coffee.

Yet another recently opened pub offered me a good pint on my first visit, but poor beer when I returned and anecdotally, I am far from alone in experiencing below par beer. Close by, I could have had almost three pints for the price of one in the place in question, courtesy of my CAMRA money off vouchers. I tried to engage the bar staff to explain that I was happy to pay premium prices but wanted a premium product for my money. I am not sure that this fell on receptive ears, but will be back to sample their food, which has had a far more positive reception than the beer, to see if standards have improved. What I take from this is that too many bar staff have been placed in the position of doing the job without adequate training. You may be able to get away with serving keg beer with a basic knowledge of connecting the gas bottle and pulling the tap, but cask beer is a living product which needs to be stored, handled, and served very carefully. We are grateful that the pubs are still open and selling cask beer, but please train your staff.

bar.man@btinternet.com



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