On our recent trip to London, we found ourselves pondering the sustainability of the current craze for craft beer.
At the Southampton Arms, as befits our great age, we sat in the corner saying things like “What does he think his hair looks like?”; “Eee, she’ll catch her death in them trousers — they don’t reach her ankles!”; and “Is that lad wearing leggings and cowboy boots?” The crowd was young and fashionable and, for the most part, drinking cask ale from dimple mugs.
We have a suspicion that, in two years time, when beer has had its moment in the spotlight and, say, the eighties wine bar has made a retro comeback, or everyone’s drinking Sahti, or whatever, some of these people will deny ever having touched a pint of ale. Maybe they’ll secretly admit they didn’t like it at all and only did so to look cool.
Even if we are witnessing a mere trend, however, it will be impossible to put beer back in its box. After all, wine didn’t disappear from the collective consciousness when the Dagmar burned down. The heady euphoria of ten new breweries a week and can’t go on forever, but Britain’s beer landscape will have changed for good by the time the fad passes. A hidden demand for good beer will have been flushed out and many will have become (to some extent) beer geeks for life.
It’s hard to have a fling with beer: to know it is to love it.