Saturday, March 17, 2012

When Good Beer Turns Bad

The Scene
Archeo, a restaurant in the Toronto Distillery District that's named for its Victorian Industrial architecture. Aesthetically, it's a nice place.

The Food
Pizza/bistro.  My friend had the salmon, which looked nice, and I had the Duck Confit Pizza, which was dry.  Usually if a pizza costs $15, it tastes much better than one of those frozen ones from your local Longo's.

The Beer
My friend had the Sleeman Original, on draught, and I had Sleeman Cream Ale, in bottle.

The Problem
There wasn't much in terms of beer on the list, but I'm a big fan of Sleeman Cream Ale, so I went with it.  The problem with not being a frequent visitor of this restaurant was that I
1. Won't trust any taps until I've had a few different beers to know whether they clean them properly, and
2. Feel safer, but not safe, going with a bottle.

But you've got to chance it, right? Else you'll be drinking water.

The Hit
So I chanced it, and the beer had gone bad.  Now we all know that clear bottles are most susceptible to light and the resulting delightful, skunky smell and taste.  Unfortunately, this one had been hit.

The Reaction
No, I didn't send it back.  I should have, I know this, but I didn't.  I even gave it the benefit of the doubt, and ordered a second one, just to be sure it wasn't just that one bottle, but I'm quite sure the entire batch had been hit.

The Solution
Send it back!  Restaurants need to know when their beer goes bad.  No, it shouldn't have to be up to us, the loyal drinkers, to tell them when they're serving up $8 bottles of skunked beer.  They should know how to properly store, and even when to buy lots so not to have to improperly store them, but sometimes, they just don't know (or care?).

The Next Step
Maybe there should be a global storage course that every restaurateur has to take if they're storing and serving beer (isn't there?).  Maybe there should be a group put together to police beer served to Torontonians.  Maybe, just maybe, places like Paupers Pub, where a pint of Guinness has an unfathomable tangy aftertaste, or the Madison, where a pint of Keith's tastes like sour red wine, and to a lesser degree Archeo, where bottles of the carefully crafted Sleeman Cream Ale have been served post-poor conditions - maybe customer loyalty would explode if only they'd serve up a proper pint of resplendence.

The Fin ... ?
What do you think?  (This isn't over.)


  1. lol... fail. The salmon is bad there too.

  2. Reminds me of a story my friend told me.

    His Dad used to frequent a pub in Cheshire, UK where the beer was Joseph Holt of Manchester. This beer is really bitter and tart tasting (still is), so the landlord, unbeknownst to his customers, used to siphon off the first few pints and add a bottle of lemonade to the barrel. This took the edge off the beer.

    One busy night, the beer needed changing so one of the staff took the initiative and changed the barrel without telling the landlord. Ever pint pulled from that barrel was sent back as being 'bad' by the customers! The landlord was furious when he found out.

  3. Another sign of bad storage (also from my experience storing at home) is rust marks on the bottle, near the cap. That happened recently with a bottle I ordered at Brant House. I should have sent it back, but I too did not.

  4. Hey Linda,
    You are totally right, many bar owners/staff do not know how to properly store or serve beer.
    We started because we got tired of drinking crappy draught. We wanted a way to let people know where to go to get a fresh, cold properly poured pint, through clean lines and taps into clean branded beer glasses.
    Our criteria is so tough that we are having trouble finding bars that meet it. We don't plan on lowering our standards, instead we are trying to change the way bar owners think. The more that people send back bad beer, the sooner that they will listen.
    Cheers, Steve


What do you think?