Generalisations about beer culture

Bewildered by Coffee

Our experience in a smart independent coffee shop in Falmouth this weekend gave us a glimpse into how many people must feel when they enter a craft beer bar.

We like coffee, but (as with whisky, wine, cheese) we don’t know very much, having not chosen to expend any mental energy reading on the subject, or forcing ourselves to concentrate as we consume. We’ve picked up a few nuggets of folk knowledge here and there, and think we can spot a bad cup of coffee in the wild, but that’s about it.


Perspective Check

It can be odd but good for us to spend time with people who aren’t obsessive about beer.

Our guest this weekend speaks her mind and knows a lot about books, music, history, theology, food and, yes, wine… but nothing whatsoever about beer.

She was keen to taste every beer we drank, finding most of them ‘interesting’ or ‘nice’. Anything dark she thought was like Guinness. And that was the extent of her ‘engagement’ with the stuff in the glass.

How could she not be blown away by Westmalle Triple? Or Fuller’s Vintage Ale? Nice but boozy. Nice!? With her enquiring mind, how could she not at least be intrigued by the flavours, the hints of this and aromas of that? Well, she wasn’t, and our bafflement is our problem, not hers.

We ought to understand it. We’re exactly the same about wine — we’ll drink it, but with a shrug, and without passing comment or judgement. It just does nothing for us. We’re as interested in wine as in, say, envelopes.

Some people are beer geeks; others are beer drinkers; but, for a large number of people, beer might as well not exist. It’s important for us to occasionally emerge from our cave, blinking and smelling of hops, to be reminded of that.

We went for a run from Penzance to Mousehole in a gale yesterday. No bottle of Fuller’s Vintage has never tasted better, nor any fire felt warmer, than those we enjoyed on our return.