Thursday, 10 March 2011

A war of admiration...

There's nothing that gets people frothing at the mouth more than perceived bias. There's a thread rolling around the beer world at the moment in which the admirers of beer are being pitched against the... Admirers of beer!

There is it seems a perceived or real disconnect between the lovers of broadly traditional type ales and the lovers of, broadly, more modern type ales. Essentially people who like one type are likely to slag off the other type! It's a war of the beer geeks people and you should all pick sides immediately!
I've witnessed some of the skirmishes in the build up to this battle first hand. I've seen big, burly, beardy men attack skinny bespectacled men with ancient yeast strains and I've seen stars and stripes wrapped 'hop bombs' lobbed directly in to CAMRA meetings! It's not fucking pretty.

More realistically I've talked to utterly respectable CAMRA top bods who completely dismiss the entire range of certain modern, sharply marketed, breweries with no heed to taste whatsoever. I've also had heated conversations with younger savvy drinkers who will slag off more subtle traditional British ales whilst rendering their palettes entirely useless with yet another 'edgy' 1000000IBU, hard to find uber beer.

It's all well and good but where does it get us?

One of the actual real life problems that is exacerbating this disconnect is that you find some classic ales in some dubious locations. I was slagging off London Pride in an earlier post, the reason being is that it's widely available and can end up in the hands of landlords who don't know or care about keeping beer well.

If beer is not kept properly you are likely to find that at best it's flat, at worst it's vinegar. This unfortunately happens a lot and can happen to all beers as breweries grow and get their beer in to more pubs. More pubs mean more sales but less control over how the product is sold.

Thus the modern beer type who drinks a classic ale like London Pride can be disappointed, I'd say that this is often to do with the way it's kept and how it is served. This doesn't do the brewer any favours. We do have standards like cask marque but really, I've seen it in plenty of shit branded pubs. I've also been served plenty of rubbish in cask marque accredited pubs so that's not doing anything for anyone.

You've also got to take in to account the level at which people enter the market. If you start off, like many people these days, drinking hoppy IPA's like Brewdog Punk you're going to struggle to get the subtlety in a softer but complex pint of traditional bitter.

But what of the traditional types? Well to be honest the ones I come across on the whole really appreciate all types of beer, they have their favourites and that's just fine. Most are knowledgeable and are perhaps just a little irksome about the stereotyping that can go on in the growing, trendier circles of the beer world.

There's no point in brawling it out, I think brewers have an important role to play in backing the full gamut of ales and physically getting in to the places that sell them to make sure they are being served properly. True appreciation of beer about open-mindedness and experimentation. That works both ways - god I've had some obscure stuff in my time but I'll still tell anyone who wants to listen than one of my best pints was a super malty, fruit gums juicy, John Smith's Magnet in the boozer closest to Northallerton train station about 5 years ago.
I've gained my knowledge by working with beer, talking to people who know about beer and reading about beer. It's up to people like me to help to educate the new market and it's up to the new market to educate themselves too - this is not about ticking boxes or bragging, bandwagon jumpers and trend followers will show themselves up eventually...

Oh yeah and beer should in pretty much all cases should be served through a sparkler! What the hell is wrong with you bloody southerners and your crappy bubbly heads eh???

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  1. lol,nice.. very nice. Smiths Magnet though? Truth be told I've had some excellent pints of Tetley's in my time, if we want to fight about anything, it should be around the closure of pubs and breweries like so.

  2. Bravo Maestro! Lessons to be learned from both sides - very true! Open-mindedness all the way.

  3. Ghostie - I'm sure I had a pint of Tetleys once...