The ideal market for beer

Market stall in Walthamstow, London.

What’s better — cask or keg? ‘Craft’ or industrial beer? National, regional or microbrewery beer? Balanced session beer or strong, hoppy stuff? Beer made by Heriot Watt graduates, or by homebrewers turned pro? Bottled or draught?

Isn’t the ideal to have a bit of everything, in proportion to demand?

As consumers, our most basic requirement is the mass availability of easy-drinking, good quality beer at a fair price — the stuff we consume most days and don’t blog about because, really, who wants to know every time we have a very nice pint of Tribute? (Mass availability = in every town or village within, say, a 20 minute walk, or near the workplace.)

We want a bit more choice as close to home as possible, but certainly within an hour’s train or bus ride. If we feel the urge to drink something a bit different (stout, mild, pale and hoppy) on a Wednesday night in November, we should be able to do so without too much bother.

But we also want the niche products we crave once in a while — Belgian beer, ‘craft keg’, rarities and oddities — to be readily available. (Ready availability = no more than a couple of hours on the train or bus.) We don’t mind if they cost a bit more to reflect the additional cost of production and distribution. This niche has room to grow a bit but will probably remain small, and that’s fine — not every town needs a craft beer bar, just every region.

We want to see new breweries opening, challenging established outfits to up their game. If they brew great beer, then that’s ideal; even if they don’t, and they can’t survive in the long term, they stop the pool from getting stagnant. They keep at bay monopolies where there’s only one beer on offer and it’s as bad and/or expensive as the breweries decide.

Finally, in the ideal marketplace, no-one should be made to feel like an arsehole whichever type of beer they choose to drink.

3 thoughts on “The ideal market for beer”

  1. hmm by those standards i live in a near perfect market – half doz cask ales available between 2 pubs within 2 min of mine. within half hour walk i can prob find 40 or 50 diff cask ales and at least a couple of quality kegs. within ten miles of me is at least 10 breweries (half of them of quality worthy of excitted blogs) , and within a 15 min bus ride ive got significant number of bars specialising in quality keg (i dont use the c word its meaningless ) , a perfect market? nah to be honest i still want more choice 🙂 for top end bottles beerritz is within 2 miles of my house. think i might be spoilt but thats leeds for you. though looking at my place of birth – small market town in the yorkshire dales – mainly proper real ale pubs but last time i was there could still find flying dog ipa on keg! , 3 brewers in (or within) 2 miles of town. in conclusion yorkshire is great and going by this blog id be non too keen to leave the county.

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