I'm sure everyone who reads this is, shall we say, experienced in the ways of drinking and pubbery. You know what's good, and where to get it. But what happens when you're in a town you've never been to before and want a drink. What do you do then? There is always Spoons as a safe option, but what happens if you don't like Timbo and all that is associated with him? Pete Brown had problems with this recently.
There is a very simple way to tell the quality of any pub you go into. Do not go by what the signs say outside. These will either be complete bullshit, or have been put up in the last century so are now inapplicable, but the owners cannot be bothered to pay for a screwdriver to take them down.
No, all you have to do is walk through the door and get close enough to see exactly what they have on draught. It's that simple. This can be divided into 6 types :
Type 1 - Nothing but keg fonts. They will be serving Fosters, Stella, Kronenbourg, John Smiths or some other smooth, and Guinness. The patrons will be either tattooed and shaven headed, or have makeup applied with a muck spreader. Your best bet is to leave. Quickly. Before the death stares kill you.
(Ironically, a couple of my acquaintance went to a place like this. They'd left the pub I recommended to them and naïvely went to next nearest. Bearing in mind this is a female same-sex couple. Astonishingly, nothing bad happened to them. I can only assume the 'interesting' clientele were so shocked they were paralysed into inaction).
Type 2 - As Type 1, but has one or two handpulls. Usually something like Wells Bombardier or Greene King IPA. Probably best to leave this place also. The lager and smooth is likely to be the only drinks that sell here, and the cask is likely to be cloudy vinegar soup.
Type 3 - Possibly the most awkward type of pub. They have 4, 5 or maybe even 6 handpulls. Often half with the local favourites, half with semi-obscure stuff that the pub company have picked up cheap somewhere. The important thing here is see what the other patrons are drinking. If it's cask, then you're probably safe. But if it's lager, then, well, you pays your money and you takes your choice.
Type 4 - If you're fed up of uncertainty the you can go the family-owned brewery pub. Variety is not the forte of such places. In fact, you'll probably have a choice of five different bitters between 3.6% and 4.8%. It will be boring, but safe. See also Robinson's, Thwaites, Marston's etc.
Type 5 - This is the pub which tries to cater to both the Crafties and the Beards. Microbrewed cask ale and Craft Keg on the fonts. You're usually safe here. The only problem could possibly be untrained student staff who know nothing about beer as they've been hired for cheapness and looks. If that's the case, then order a bottle from the fridge. It's good.
Type 6 - I hesistate to call this the BrewDog type, but that is the most typical and famous of the breed. If you like good tasting beer, and are not put off by low temperatures and carbon dioxide then it'll be wonderful. Probably best also to bear in mind that if you are over 35 you will likely be the oldest person in the building. If you're averse to facial hair and flannel shirts then do not, I repeat do not go to these places. You will be scared.
There are probably more types, but these are the most common. You could just use Untappd or a simply Google the reviews. But that would be too simple. Where's your sense of adventure, man?