I think you'll find…

When keen, knowledgeable bar staff cross the line and start correcting people, this is what happens.

INTERIOR, LONDON REAL ALE PUB, DAY.

An innocent looking PUNTER approaches the bar and peers over at the fridges where the bottled beers are stored. After a few moments a bearded semi-goth BARMAN (resembling Dawn of the Dead make-up artist and actor TOM SAVINI) approaches. Throughout the following, he does not blink.

BARMAN

Are you waiting?

PUNTER

Ah, yes. Erm… a couple of weeks ago I came in and you had Weihenstephan Old Bavarian or Old Munich or…

An un-Earthly gleam comes into the BARMAN’s eye. He interrupts.

BARMAN (gleeful but blunt)

Ah! Now, I think you’ll find you’re confusing two completely different beers, namely the Erdinger Dunkelweiss and the Augustiner Edelstoff. We’ve never had the Weihenstephaner dunkel weiss.

PUNTER

Well, I’m not sure I am confused. It was definitely by Weihenstephan. It had a sort of brownish red label. And it was a dark lager, rather than a dark wheat beer…

BARMAN (abruptly)

There is no such beer! We’re out of all of our dunkel weisses, including the Weheinstephaner.

There is an awkward silence. The BARMAN switches into lecture mode.

Perhaps you’d like something called Rrrrraushbier? It’s smoky tasting because the producers use…

PUNTER

It’s fine, thanks. I think I’ll go.

The bewildered PUNTER leaves shaking his head.

The moral of this story? Try not to use the phrase “I think you’ll find…” at the start of a sentence. Exactly like the words “I’m not racist but…”, it will mark you out as a buffoon.

Pub quizzes – good idea?

In theory, a pub quiz can help boost midweek trade.

Trouble is, they can rather take over the place, and if it’s not a quiz you’re interested in, it’s a lot more intrusive to your drinking and conversation than any music could ever be. It’s also difficult for quizmasters to strike the right balance between charismatic and annoying.

Then there are the pub quiz professionals. You know — the humourless groups of individuals who absolutely kill the mood, not so much by always winning, but by the fact they’re a group of people whose sole purpose for coming together is to win a pub quiz, not to enjoy each other’s company or the atmosphere of the pub.

Landlords and ladies — if you are going to have a pub quiz, make it short and sweet, and ideally limited to one area of the pub.

Boak

Are we beervangelists?

beervangelism.jpgLots of people who have an interest in beer, including us, aren’t just content to drink the good stuff themselves and let everyone else get on with it. They feel a powerful need to spread the word; to save those sinners who are wallowing in a world of nitro-keg Guinness and extra cold lagers. But what business is it of ours what other people drink? Why should we care what other people drink?

There are three possible reasons that spring to mind.

  1. Market economics. As CAMRA’s founding fathers worked out, a reduced demand for real ale (or any nice beer at all) means that pubs stop selling it. We want to increase demand for our favourite tipples to keep them on the market.
  2. Altruism. We know this stuff is good and we want to share our joy with others. Watching someone drink a bad beer when you know they could be drinking something delicious is hard.
  3. Know-it-all-ism. The difference between a nerd and a geek – the need to lecture and correct people.

Number three is a bad reason. People who drink bad beer aren’t “idiots”. They’re not doing anyone any harm. But if reason number two moves you to recommend a beer to a friend, is that such a bad thing?

Bailey

The language we use

beergeek.jpgThere’s some debate abroad about the language we use to describe ourselves, first at Lew Bryson’s blog, and then at A Good Beer Blog.

This reminded me of Stonch’s comment a few months back that he wouldn’t trust anyone who was inordinately proud of being called a beer geek.

We use beer geek all the time — we really don’t mind being called geeks (in this or any other field of obsession…) and don’t really regard it as a pejorative term. Beer nerd, on the other hand, probably is an insult.

Here’s the distinction, according to American comic Patton Oswalt:

A lot of nerds aren’t aware they’re nerds. A geek has thrown his hands up to the universe and gone, “I speak Klingon — who am I fooling? You win! I’m just gonna openly like what I like.” Geeks tend to be a little happier with themselves.

I think most of “us” — by which I mean, anyone who can be bothered to go out of their way to taste a particular beer, or update a blog every day or two with their reflections on this one narrow subject — have gone beyond a mainstream interest in beer.

Whatever we would like to be called, people who don’t share our interest are going to think our interests are a bit odd. It’s just beer, right?

We can try to convince ourselves and others that there’s nothing unusual about it by inventing what we think is a ‘cooler’ term:

GEEK: Actually, we prefer to be called ‘beer experts’.

OTHER: Yeah, whatever. Nerd. Oh, look — you’re slapping yourself. Why are you slapping yourself? Give me your pocket money.

We can try to conceal the level of our obsession, which is fine until you find yourself admitting the truth in tears the night before your wedding when a stack of Michael Jackson books falls out of the wardrobe.

Or we can show some self-awareness, shrug, and be happy with who we are and what we like.

Top of the Pops

jamesclay.jpgBeer enthusiasts in the UK owe James Clay and Sons a debt of thanks.

They’re the canny importers who have made it possible for us to get our hands on Brooklyn Lager, Goose Island IPA, and other exciting beers we’ve banged on about in the past.

On their website, they list their top ten sellers. As of Monday 24 March, this is how the chart looked:

    1.Duvel
    2.Erdinger Weiss
    3.Lindemans Kriek
    4.Lindemans Framboise
    5.Chimay Red Cap
    6.Schneider Weisse
    7.Vedett
    8.Brooklyn Lager
    9.Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
    10.Karmeliet Triple

Ring any bells? It’s what’s in the fridges in almost every even vaguely aspirational bar or pub in Britain.

Sure, it gets a bit boring seeing those same beers all the time, and, yes, Vedett is shite, but I’d be very glad if my local swapped its fridge full of Stella, Becks, Holsten and WKD Blue for just a few of those.