DavidH wrote:And invading Poland.
I went for lunch at 'The Squirrel' near Ludlow, and ordered a pint of Marstons Pedigree - normally not a bad beer. This was vile: it clearly had some other liquid in it. I took it back and the bloke said it was' trouble with the pumps'; he gave me a pint of ordinary Marstons which was at least drinkable.
Any ideas what that could mean? I wondered if they use some cleaning fluid to flush the system out and had left some of it in there.
'Trouble with the pumps' is probably one of three things: there's a leak somewhere in the line, they haven't cleaned the lines or they've cleaned them but not flushed them through properly.
Least likely, there's a leak somewhere that's letting air in and the beer is being oxidised. More probable, they haven't cleaned the lines for a while and there's gunk that's building up and ruining the beer. Most likely they've cleaned the lines but haven't flushed them properly so there's still cleaner in the line that's mixing with the beer.
If it tasted acidic, sour or smelt like vinegar it's the first one. If it tasted sort of flat and a bit mouldy it's the second. If it tasted sour, looked a bit of a funny colour and smelt like soap or 'solventy' it's the last one.
When you clean ale lines (which should be done once a fortnight at the absolute minimum) you remove the lines from the barrel, stick them in a bucket of cleaning solution and pull it through the pump. You get a pint of normal beer, then a pint of beer/cleaner mix (the proportions depend on the length of the line) and then cleaner comes through. If you use the posh stuff (Scottish and Newcastle pubs used to, I don't know about others) it's pink but goes colourless when it's being used. You just keep pulling it through until it comes through pink and there's no bits of crud floating in it. If it's just strong detergent being used then it's a matter of judgement deciding when it's clean.
The problem now is that your line has a pint or two of unpleasant cleaning stuff in it. Stick your line in a bucket of clean water and pull that through until it comes out of the pump clear and odourless. Then you reconnect the line back to the barrel and pull it through until you get beer, chucking away the first pint because that will be a beer/water mix. Pull through half a pint and taste it, it should be fine.
I suspect that the person that did it where you were forgot about the pulling water through stage and so the first few pints they have will be contaminated with the cleaner. If they're really unlucky (and stupid) they'll have put the line full of cleaner back onto the barrel and some of the cleaner will have gotten into the barrel, ruining whatever's left in there.
I learnt quite a lot at university
Cleaning the lines was a great job because the first pint of beer needs to be drunk or it gets thrown away. I would get merrily clattered on free beer while helping the boss and I got paid for it
The lecture next week will be on how to buy barrels for a tied house from a wholesaler and avoiding the brewery finding out