The Agony of Choice

German postcard: a man struggles with the choice of beer in Munich.
"He who has a choice suffers torment!"

For several years, we bemoaned the lack of choice in London’s pubs, and British pubs more generally. Why did so many not offer even one beer worth drinking? Why did others offer three almost identical cask ales? Why no choice of bottles, at least? Slowly, things began to improve and these days, choice is the name of the game.

And yet, when it came to considering tactics for a trip to London last year, we found ourselves preferring to visit old haunts like the Nags Head rather than any of the new crop of craft beer bars. We just weren’t ready to face them.

A place like the Craft Beer Company, unless you can visit it every day, and have the funds to support such a habit, can actually be a little depressing. Even if we drink ourselves under the table, we’ll still leave wondering about the beers we didn’t try, the half that never was.

And then there’s the choice of pub. What if we pick the wrong one for our session and miss a gem in another part of town?

Don’t get us wrong: it’s great that places like this exist, and we enjoy visiting them, but, increasingly, we enjoy a manageable degree of choice in a normal pub even more.

9 thoughts on “The Agony of Choice”

  1. I dunno, the one time I’ve visited the Craft Beer Co I whinged about the lack of beers that weren’t pale and hoppy!

  2. I wouldn’t know where to start in that London. Far too much to cram in (and as you point out, to afford). I think I’d have to meet up with a friend and have them give me a tour. We could start at the Nags Head, since it looks quite good…

  3. As a confirmed beer rater I used to be plagued by this. I’ve dealt with this by deliberately just making my choices as best I can, and then afterwards ignoring the possibly better choices that might exist. Basically, just deliberately leaning back and not worrying works for me.

    Only yesterday I was in a pub with 15 draft beers I hadn’t seen before and was unlikely ever to see again. I decided as long as I had the barley wine I could live with missing the rest. So I had a good time.

  4. I’m kinda with Ed. Most people don’t like ALL styles of beer, so the choice narrows immediately. And often you your choice of beer will be dictated by your mood. So you may go for the most obscure or you may just want to play safe. Too much choice has never been a problem for me.

  5. It is a bit of a headache when you’re faced with a massive selection. I inevitably end up liking what my friend ordered more than mine. I often feel like I’m missing out on something great when I walk out the door.

    Having said all that and despite the improvements, the overwhelming majority of pubs serve poor or no ale. It’s far more depressing meeting people in these places.

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