22 SEPTEMBER 1961, Page 16

ENGLISH PUBS Sut,—Proper draught beer, as Mr. Joe Lyde points

out, is indeed flat. It is also, in nine pubs out of ten, undrinkable, for it needs careful attention if it is to be served in the condition intended by the brewer, and this attention most present-day licensees are un- able or unwilling to give. Hence the introduction of improper draught beer, the pressurised, carbon- ated bitter dispensed from a keg, i.e. from an over- sized metal bottle which needs no more attention than seeing that there is always a fresh one on hand to be slipped into circuit at need. (Even this amount of vigilance is often lacking.)

Here, I imagine, is the source of Mr. Maclnnes's gassy pints. Or perhaps the drinkers he describes were dulling the horrors of the draught beer by mixing it with an equal amount from a bottle. It is surely the comparative dependability of bottled beer, which only an insanely slothful or cack- handed publican can altogether ruin, that is chiefly responsible for the great post-war swing away from draught. (The habit of taking light ales home lo drink round the telly, though often quoted, is prob- ably secondary.) I find it significant that the natural bottled beers, e.g. Bass Red Triangle and Worthing- ton White Shield, which need some watching as to temperature and the length of time between bottling and drinking, arc disappearing from the pubs in favour of the pasteurised Blue Triangle and Green Shield, which will survive anything short of being dropped on a stone floor.

The licensee, then, deserves, and will I hope in- creasingly be given, most of the blame. But it is worth repeating that the drinker is not guiltless. If he drinks tepid urine without complaint, tepid urine is what he will go on getting.