This is another thing we’ve previously shared on Twitter. Apologies if you’ve seen it before and especially if you don’t think it’s got any funnier with age. (And apologies are also due to Viz Comic who have been doing this joke better than us for thirty years.)
This week, a colleague asked me in the pub whether London Pride is better than Carlsberg and what the difference is between them. I wasn’t quite sure what the most helpful answer would be.
I’ve seen a perfect demonstration of the wrong approach, in a well-known beer geek pub in London. A young woman at the bar asked her boyfriend what ale was, exactly, and how it differed from beer. She was overheard by a huge, bearded man with bona fide piss stains on his trousers. He ran the length of the bar, pint in hand, to crowingly deliver a complex explanation about different yeasts and top and bottom fermentation. He also threw in a bit about exceptions to the basic rule like koelsch, alt, dark lager and so on. As well as making him look like a total tosser, it wasn’t a terribly helpful answer for someone with a very limited understanding of beer and a passing interest in finding out more.
I’ve been asked this question by Spanish friends in the UK, and my answer is usually something like: “Lager’s what you usually drink in Spain. It’s generally light in colour and fizzy. In Spain (and usually in Britain), it doesn’t have a strong flavour, although you can get lagers that are more bitter or aromatic. Ale is a traditional British drink, and is less fizzy, fruitier and usually more bitter. It is often brown, but can be lighter or darker. Personally, I think the flavour of ale is much more interesting and varied than the lagers you usually get in pubs in Spain or the UK.”
But that also looks quite patronising when I write it down.
So what is the best answer, particularly if you want to encourage people to try the ale and give the Carlsberg a miss?
Spotted in an alleyway in East London, not far from our house: two empty Brooklyn East India Ale bottles.
I haven’t seen this on sale anywhere other than Utobeer in London. Are there other beer geeks in the vicinity? (If so and you’re reading this — what’s wrong with the recycling bin, ya litterbugs?)
I’m always a bit self-conscious about taking notes in pubs, and generally don’t bother. But what do you do when you come across an interesting beer that you really want to write about later?
Text messaging is the answer. Just write your review in a mammoth text, and save it. You look like you’re a cool dude with loads of mates, rather than a sad sack looking for blog material.
It’s not just about where you feel comfortable yourself — it’s sometimes about where you feel comfortable taking your friends.
A Jewish friend of mine recently said he hated going to his favourite kosher restaurants with non-Jewish friends because he felt accountable for the terrible time they would inevitably have: “If it wasn’t for me and my dietary requirements, they could be in a nice restaurant eating food they’d actually enjoy!”
The funny thing is, I feel very much the same about pubs that cater for the beer geek.
I go to those kind of pubs frequently with Boak, and with those of my mates who are bothered about beer, but the couple of times I’ve gone with people who aren’t that fussed — normal people — they’ve really hated them.
A pub which, on previous occasions, has felt as relaxing and cosy as my own front room suddenly becomes cold and rather lonely. I find myself trying to make people like the pub; making apologies for it; defending it.
It’s just like when I made my brother watch Peep Show and he didn’t laugh once.
The pub should be fun. Being (perhaps justifiably) berated for making people go out of their way to get to a “weird, silent pub full of weirdos”, just isn’t.
Maieb touched upon a similar issue a few months ago.