Ice cold in Alex? No thanks!

One thing that annoys me about beer is when you think you’re about to enjoy a nice pint only to discover it’s been served too cold and has no flavour. Lager (*spits in disgust*) is served cold; ale should be served cool.

I’m lucky enough to live within a stone’s throw of two pubs, but it seems they serve their real ale to quite different standards. I was pleased to see The Torbay Inn in Paignton offering Butcombe Bitter as its guest ale recently, but disappointed when I got my pint and it was ice cold. Next time The Man and I popped out for a pint we thought we’d try The Devonport Arms instead. We were pleasantly surprised in more ways than one.

The guest beer was Dartmoor Brewery’s ‘Jail Ale’ which we’d never tried before. It was a tasty pint with an unexpected sweetness to it and it was served cool and full of flavour.

I’m mulling over whether to speak to the landlord of The Torbay Inn about the overly-cold Butcombe, but concerned my feedback might be taken as mere moaning. Has anyone else ever been in this position and have you managed to get your local to do better with their beer?

In the meantime, I’ve got another date in my diary with a pint of the lovely Jail Ale!

Photo by James Cridland



  1. Oooh, I had a lovely pint of Butcombe at the Fighting Cock in Bradford a few months back.

    Know what you mean about the cold beer thing. Wetherspoons are buggers for it. Why get all those nice ales in and then serve them freezing cold? Meh.

    • I shall bear that in mind for when I’m in Bradford again. I think I first came across Butcombe’ at a folk gig, either Oysterband in Dartford or Show of Hands in Burnham-on-Sea, either way it was served at a better temperature then or it might have put me right off!

  2. Whilst an ice cold butcombe may be preferable to a red hot poker in the same vicinity, it can still come as a bit of shock when you’re not expecting it!

    Complaints/feedback about beer quality can have mixed results. Some landlords/managers can get quite sensitive if their beer keeping skills are called into question. Some others may only keep real ale because they have to and are not be particularly interested in it, despite it being in there interests to be from a sales perspective if nothing else!

    I’d suggest that any approach should be made tactfully to the actual manager or landlord, rather than other members of staff, and couched in a way that is constructive and which may even contain some positive elements about the beer/pub. Also perhaps raise the issue at a quieter time when he/she is less likely to become instantly defensive or bolshy due to not wanting to lose face in front of other customers.

    I don’t remember complaining about the temperature of beer, but I have a long track record of complaining about short measures and poor quality. When it comes to the latter I’ve had the whole range of reactions from “your right, this is rank, I’ll take it off immediately, what else can I get you”, right through to “there’s nowt wrong with it, it’s supposed to taste like vinegar, f*ck off and drink elsewhere if you don’t like it”.

    • Thanks for your thoughts/suggestions on this. It seems we are of the same mindset about the need for tact and diplomacy, but like you there have been times when I’ve complained about things (not necessarily beer) and more or less been told where I can stick my feedback.

  3. Aargh, a “there” “their” mix up that I can’t edit…..please excuse me whilst I go outside and shoot myself.

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