Last week I had pretty much the worst beer I've ever drunk.
It was soupy looking, flat and darker than an IPA should be.
It was meaty in flavour and earthy in aroma, with a dull, almost aniseed-like aftertaste. It was a struggle to swallow, and I returned it.
There's been a lot controversy about beer quality already this year. Even Pete Brown, former editor of the Cask Report, wrote a piece showing concern about the care for real ale in British pubs.
He's right to worry: when poorly cared for, cask can be undrinkable. But the beer I had wasn't on cask, it was on keg.
Beer quality goes beyond the dispense method. Freshness is key to both mediums, as are cool cellar temperatures and crystal clean lines. Unless you are nailing all three, you are serving your customers a damaged product. Beer is very delicate – more so than spirits and wine.
Its flavour relies wholly on volatiles like hop oils that easily diminish when not treated right.
I find it bizarre that we check to see if a wine is corked, but don't check the beers we serve when the chance of them being tainted is so much higher.
Whether you're serving a beer sommelier or a Foster's fan, the difference between them having a good pint, and even a good night, in your pub could be how you care for the beer. So we need to give it the respect we give to all our other products.