The Ricoh Stadium recently became the first stadium to achieve Cask Marque status, and whilst I don’t for one minute consider that an absolute guarantee of decent beer, it’s normally at least a sign that the outlet concerned is trying.
Wasps, the stadium’s owners, have a sponsorship tie-in with local brewers Purity, and so there are Purity bars dotted around the stadium. Beer is stillaged in the bar area, and served in plastic Eco-cups. Choice is Ubu or Gold, and price is £3.70 per pint plus a £1 refundable deposit for the cup. Only problem with this is that the staff are frequently not trained sufficiently to understand that when they press the button on the till for “pint plus cup”, they don’t have to charge a further pound for the cup…
Anyway, on this occasion I went for the Ubu. Leaving aside the lack of tactile pleasure that a real glass gives, it’s a very acceptable pint and kept perfectly well. The slightly off-white head survives over three quarters of the way down the pint in this plastic container, which I can live with. The deep amber colour is rather masked by the decoration on the cup. Overall, it’s a nicely balanced bitter that I always find very drinkable, with sweetness, nuttyness, decent hop flavour and a little yeast all contributing.
Now the big question is this; if this stadium can serve decent beer at a not too outrageous price, why can’t others? Last week I was forced to drink John Smith’s Smoothflow at Murrayfield at an exorbitant price, and it was so terrible I only had one pint. I am expecting no better at Twickenham next weekend. Stadium owners, you are losing sales by only selling desperately poor product at sky high prices! Give customers a choice of something drinkable!