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Like Nik Wood (letters Aug/Sept edition), I too bemoan the lack of old style session bitters in London pubs. However, the situation may not be as bleak as he makes out. Timothy Taylor renamed their bitter ‘Boltmaker’ several years ago and it is still very much on sale, including in the Royal Oak in Surbiton near me as well as at the Bricklayer’s Arms. Likewise, Sharp’s session bitter has always been called Cornish Coaster and is still very much available, although sadly nowhere near as much as the ubiquitous Doom Bar.
On a separate note, can I please correct the assertion that Sambrook’s is ‘London’s oldest independent brewery’. That accolade surely now belongs to Twickenham Brewery, who were set up four years before Sambrook’s in 2004.
THE UNION TAVERN
Regarding the survey on prices of beer in pubs near tube stations (Aug/Sep edition – page 16) the statement that the Union Tavern in Westbourne Park has nothing on sale for less than £5.55 a pint is completely untrue. This may apply to the keg craft products (in common with most pubs) but real ales are around £4.60 per pint which is the usual price for the area. On Mondays at least one real ale is priced at only £3.00 per pint. Please put the record straight.
Les Maggs – Chairman of the West London branch of CAMRA
Next time you buy a drink, watch the barperson during the course of the pour. They will invariably do one or more of the following with their free hand:
• touch their face and/or ear
• play with their hair
• scratch their nethers and/or re-adjust their underwear
• cough into their arm
• wipe the sides of your glass with their fingers or with a cloth of indeterminate vintage.
I’m not advocating that they should wear chemical suits, simply that they should be made aware that customers find each and all of the above a bit unhygienic and off-putting.
Editor’s note: I can’t say that I have noticed any of the events that Mr Docherty describes but that of course is his point. Beer is a foodstuff and should be served as such.