As a contrast to a previous posting which has since been removed about the poor service we received in an Abingdon pub, I thought I’d balance it with praise for some good customer service we received in various Abingdon pubs on the same day.
The Punch Bowl staff and landlady were friendly and welcoming as usual. In addition they offered free turkey and cranberry rolls, and warm mince pies to all the customers. The Morland Original I drank was in good condition and well served.
The Anchor was next… we were greeted in a friendly manner. Even though this is also a Green King pub, they try to have a good selection of the guest beers that Green King supply. We chose the Abbot Reserve, which being rather strong we only drank halves. I remembered this beer from the Anchor Beer Festival a couple of months ago and was eager to try it again and I was not disappointed.
The Brewery Tap near the entrance to where the old Morland brewery used to be before it was converted into flats is also a Green King pub. But similar to the Anchor they always have a good selection of GK guest beers. We ordered the Hardy and Hansons bitter which I have enjoyed there many times before. For some reason after the first sip, we did not enjoy the taste and thought it was a bit sour and must have gone off (bottom of the barrel?). We mentioned this to the barman, who called over the manager. The manager tried some himself and assured us that nothing was wrong with it. As we took some more mouthfuls, it started to taste better. I think that what happened was that our palettes were conditioned from the Abbot Reserve we had recently drank making the H&H fruity hops taste more pronounced. This is excellent customer service because even though we were wrong about the beer being off, we were treated with respect and offered replacements (which we declined as we realised that the H&H was actually all right). Generally the Brewery Tap always have their beers in excellent condition and served at the right temperature.
Finally we went to the Stocks Bar at the Crown and Thistle. Normally they have four real ales available including Wychwood and Brakspear beers, but unfortunately they only had one beer on that day. The bar maid gave a good explanation as to why this was. The one beer that was available was Old Peculiar, which we enjoyed a couple of pints of. The only problem is that the beer is served a bit too cold (though I have heard rumours that the cellars are being modified to remedy this soon). This is not a big problem.. just let it warm up a bit in your glass before drinking it. We were served our beer in handled glasses. Even though they were quite difficult for the bar maid to reach, she was cheerful and friendly. It is details like this that make good customer service.
So top marks to all of these four pubs. My Danish companions were very happy and impressed with the English pubs and beer.