Triggering tipsiness is one much-valued feature of beer, but not the be-all-and-end-all.
A first, beer and ale were thought preferable to gin because gin made you bad at holding babies, while on beer, you could simultaneously catch up on some reading, spend quality time with your other half, and balance fish on your head:
Then, in the 19th century, people got excited about lager because there was a belief that, unlike British beer, it didn’t really get you drunk, or make you rowdy.
Both have rather different recipes, perhaps surprisingly, given their similar specifications: for example, Watney’s contained black malt for colour, while Mann’s got most of its from caramel. The water was also treated very differently. (And, by the way, bottled Watney’s Brown was also quite distinct from their draught mild.)*
Because Mann’s is still in production, we’re a bit twitchy about sharing the details, but the following information should enable you to produce at home something resembling Watney’s Brown as it was in 1965.
A cheerful band of drinkers, together we all stand, Maybe a bit unsteady, with tankards in the hand. ’Prentices or Craft Brothers, we have our little joke, We are always drinking, but the Publicans go broke!
The final stanza of ‘The Ballad of Boozeldon’ which opens the 1967 home brewing manual Brewing Better Beers by Ken Shales.
…we’re much harsher in our judgements of ‘craft beer’… we’ve also learned our own limits, and come to respect really expert brewers all the more.
A couple of years on, that’s truer than ever: we resent paying for beers that are no better than we could turn out ourselves and, unfortunately, quite often find ourselves saying of beers we’ve paid several quid for, “Ugh! If we’d brewed this, we’d have written off as a failed batch.”
Has it made us like beers we didn’t like before? Actually, yes — we were baffled by saison until we read Phil Markowski’s book Farmhouse Ales, at which point it snapped into focus: it’s all about the subtly funky, distinctive yeast. We’ve since brewed several batches which have not only been among the best beer we’ve ever produced but have also helped us understand and appreciate commercial examples.
In fact, more generally, one of the great benefits of home brewing has been getting to know different yeast strains, and coming to appreciate its contribution in a world where hops hog all the attention. We’re much more sensitive to yeast character, or its absence, than we ever were before.