Bland is fine, homogeneous a problem

Three slices

In the past, we’ve been guilty of snip­ing at spe­cif­ic beers that annoy us with their bland­ness, but we now think that’s prob­a­bly the wrong thing to fret over.

In April 1972, con­sumer mag­a­zine Which? sur­veyed the most pop­u­lar keg bit­ters on the British mar­ket.

…none smelled very strong­ly in the glass – none was either unpleas­ant or very pleas­ant. As far as taste went, the over­whelm­ing impres­sion of our tasters was that none of the keg bit­ters had any very char­ac­ter­is­tic taste… we also car­ried out a stan­dard lab­o­ra­to­ry test for hop – bit­ter­ness. These results con­firmed how sim­i­lar the keg beers were.

The prob­lem here is the sim­i­lar­i­ty between the prod­ucts.

What we, as con­sumers, need to be wary of is a homo­ge­neous mar­ket which offers us no real choice. Bland keg bit­ters might not be to your taste, but it’s no bad thing that they exist as part of a var­ied land­scape which also includes stronger, dark­er, lighter, more flow­ery, lagered, Bel­gian, Amer­i­can and down­right wacky beers.

We haven’t yet seen an orig­i­nal copy of Which? from April 1972 but, for­tu­nate­ly, Christo­pher Hutt quotes from this arti­cle at length in his The Death of the Eng­lish Pub (1973).

Pic­ture from Flickr Cre­ative Com­mons: Three Slices by Nick Salt­marsh.