Paris – How not to serve a beer

I now regret popping into Paris on Friday night for a quick beer. Paris is an architecturally gorgeous bar on Lambton Quay in Wellington. It reappeared on the scene after the Dog and Bone, one of three bars claiming to be the city’s only English pub, shut its doors. The doors of Paris had themselves been mysteriously shut in recent weeks but on Friday it was open for business.

I ordered a Hoprocker and an apple juice (not for me clearly) and was somewhat stunned to be asked for sixteen dollars. On appeal, this was reduced to $12.50. While the apple juice was proclaimed “excellent” (as it should be at that price), the same could not be said of my poor Hoprocker.

It was stale, oxidised and flat.

After some consideration, I took it back to the bar and politely informed them the beer was off. Their reaction to this simple statement was simply incredible.

First, they claimed it was Mac’s Gold. I said I had ordered a Hoprocker. I was unclear how them serving me the wrong beer would possibly help their case. Aha, the manager declared, they don’t serve Mac’s Gold any more! The point of this ruse again eluded me. They had upgraded to Hoprocker because, she said triumphantly, it was a better beer.

I concurred that Hoprocker is a much better beer overall but that the particular example in my glass most certainly was not. The manager waved her hand and said they had served “plenty of beers” and mine was the first complaint. Given the bar had precisely two people in it and they were drinking wine, this seemed a bold claim.

In the meantime, the beer had been sitting on the bar. I looked at it. She looked at it. I repeated my belief, as someone who writes about beer for a living, that this particular beer was in poor condition. She said nothing. I helpfully suggested “I am offering you the opportunity to do something about it.” More silence.

As I left, I saw the beer being carried out the back, presumably for further tests.

That, learned readers, is how not to serve a beer. However, it may explain why the place was deserted on a Friday night.