In 1983, a piece of fluff research sponsored by the International Lager Festival, and written up in The Daily Mirror by none other than Alastair Campbell, found that lager drinkers were ‘better in bed… suaver, slimmer, more sophisticated and better educated than bitter drinkers’. They tended to fancy ‘women like Raquel Welch, TV presenter Sue Lawley and actress Pamela Stephenson’. They were men as cool as Sting or Barry Sheene. Bitter drinkers, on the other hand, as represented by Bernard Manning and Jocky Wilson, were ‘big and fat, dull and drab with hairy chests and spend so much time playing darts with the lads that when they go to bed, it’s usually to sleep’.
A CAMRA spokesman disagreed with these findings: ‘better in bed my boot’.
Oddly, when a survey was conducted by real ale brewers Hall and Woodhouse (aka ‘Badger’) in 1989, the results were quite different. As reported in The Times on 30 December that year:
Ale fellows, it seems, like to think of themselves as country types who work the land, wear rough-textured clothes and are “physically stronger than men of today”. “It is here that the real attraction of this fantasy lies,” says Thornton Mustard, the marketing psychologist behind the project.
Mr Mustard, who, amazingly, is a real person, went on to say that, in the ale drinker’s fantasy:
…the work pace is seen to be leisurely, and it is nearly always summer. The only variation is the harvest; a lovely autumnal mood. A man works hard and is brought tankards of ale by his wife. He has earned this ale: it is strong, yet refreshing.
‘Bitter’, on the other hand, ‘has a rough, uncultured and very masculine tonality which reassures today’s man that underneath his civility he is little-changed’. It’s was a word of the industrial north, he reckoned. (Oh, really?).
His conclusion? Brewers should market to men using one macho fantasy or another and leave women alone to make up their own minds: ‘The whole idea of marketing to women has been a disaster because it always comes across as incredibly condescending.’