Beer should bring you joy.
All kinds of beer can do this – bog standard lager, straightforward bitter, flowery IPAs, imperial stout, anything.
And all kinds of beer can do just the opposite.
It all depends on you, your taste, and the moment.
It’s the difference between a great pint of cask ale and one that, though you’d struggle to pin down the difference in concrete terms, is an utter chore.
A joyful beer hits the spot. Either it doesn’t touch the sides, or it makes you linger for an hour, savouring every sip. Even if only for half a second before you get back to the conversation, it demands your attention.
It ought to be between you and the beer, this moment of joy, but you might say to your drinking companions that it’s bob on, cock on, bang on, or perhaps if you’re feeling especially expressive not too bad at all actually. Or you might just sigh, “Aah.”
A beer that is a joy will make you want the same again. The problem is, it’s elusive, that first-drink-of-the-session jolt. Returns diminish.
The most reliable route to joyful beer is to stick to beers, breweries and pubs you trust. But there’s a joy in exploring, too, and the joy you feel on finding a good beer after three duds is among the most potent strains.
Joy needn’t mean fireworks. There’s joy in a nice mug of tea or clean bedsheets and beer ought to be the same kind of everyday, attainable pleasure.