Pub life: at the craft beer bar

Keg taps.

Do you mind if we sit here? Guys! Guys! There’s room here! What do you want to drink? Uh, there’s like, one hun­dred dif­fer­ent beers. I don’t… I’m not… Do you..? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, man, that sounds good, I might have the same. Same for you too? Same all round? Cool, cool, three gin-and-ton­ics, cool, cool…

* * *

Is it OK if we, er… Oh, ta.

Four pound odd for two-thirds of a bloody pint? You’re hav­ing me on, aren’t you? Two thirds!

And they’ve a list in there of about fifty bloody beers – do you know how many of them are bit­ters? None. Not bloody one.

There’s not even a red ale – noth­ing but pales and IPAs.

And not much under five per cent either, mind you. Ooh, gah, taste that… No, go on, taste it!

Nice!?

Nice?

It’s not bloody grum­ble mut­ter nice grum­ble slurp…

* * *

Hel­lo.

I’m a princess.

Bye!

* * *

Is this OK for you, Dad? Not too cold? It’s OK, is it? If Mum goes… And I’ll sit… Are you sure it’s not too cold? Because we can swap seats if…? No? You’re sure?

Fine, OK, so, who’s hav­ing… Sor­ry, Dad?

Yes, that’s why I asked.

Yes, I know, that’s why I…

Right, fine, every­body up, we’re going inside. Because Dad’s cold. Dad’s cold. No, I was­n’t talk­ing to you, I was telling Mum that you’re cold. No, she’s not cold…

* * *

Are you going to talk to me or just look at your phone? Because if you’re just going to look at your phone I’ll have to start bring­ing a book with me.

8 thoughts on “Pub life: at the craft beer bar”

  1. Just here to ask a kind of dumb ques­tion… is there a dis­tinc­tion between a bit­ter and a pale ale? I had nev­er thought there was, but then bit­ters aren’t some­thing you ever real­ly see in the Unit­ed States.

    1. His­tor­i­cal­ly ‘pale ale’ meant pret­ty much the same as ‘bit­ter’ – which is to say, the name did­n’t give you much infor­ma­tion about what the beer was actu­al­ly like, oth­er than it was paler than black cof­fee, almost cer­tain­ly between 3% and 5%, and what most peo­ple most­ly drank most of the time. What you’d actu­al­ly get when you ordered bit­ter – or ‘pale ale’, or even ‘IPA’ – depend­ed very much on where you were in the coun­try.

      What we now call ‘pale ale’ is the descen­dant of one region­al sub-style of ‘bit­ter’ – the yel­low, sharp, heav­i­ly hopped, intense­ly bit­ter style found in Sheffield and Man­ches­ter, and in west York­shire and south Lan­cashire more broad­ly. But for most peo­ple, in most of the coun­try, that’s not what ‘bit­ter’ meant (means?); ‘bit­ter’ is much more typ­i­cal­ly mid- to dark­ish brown, with a dense malty body backed by tan­nic bit­ter­ness or caramel sweet­ness – or some­times both – and not much in the way of aro­ma.

      I was inter­est­ed to see the (over­heard?) ref­er­ence to red ale as a pos­si­ble syn­onym for bit­ter. I’d nev­er heard of ‘red ale’ before about ten years ago, and I’m still not quite sure what it’s meant to be – the few exam­ples I’ve had have been red-brown to look at but aro­mat­ic hop-bombs to taste.

      1. Thanks Phil, very help­ful! The more I learn about beer styles the more reduc­tive and harm­ful the BJCP approach seems. (If you don’t know, that’s a U.S. orga­ni­za­tion that pub­lish­es style guide­lines for pur­pos­es of home­brew­ing com­pe­ti­tions.)

          1. I think the main dis­tinc­tion between bit­ter and pale ale to the aver­age drinker these days is that the lat­ter con­tains Amer­i­can hops.

      2. Think I read that, tra­di­tion­al­ly, some brew­ers sim­ply used the term ‘pale ale’ for bot­tled bit­ter beer. These were often a very sim­i­lar brew to what they sold as ‘bit­ter’ in cask.

  2. Phil – we guess what he had in mind was some­thing like Yaki­ma Red from Mean­time which some­times pops up in pubs that don’t oth­er­wise have any­thing even remote­ly brown­ish.

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