Sunday 21 December 2014

All's Fair

All of a sudden there was a stream of expletives from Scott.

"What's the matter?" I enquired, bothered that something terrible had happened to that day's brew.

"Have you seen this in Beer?"

Our local friendly Royal Mail man had delivered and Scott had found my copy of What's Brewing and Beer. Now, you think I sometimes have a pop at CAMRA. It's nothing compared to the things Scott has to say about cask beer and some of the views held by those who try to uphold its future. It's not that he doesn't think cask beer can't be good, it's just that he's come from USA where fantastic beer is found in abundance in keg and he doesn't understand why the same doesn't happen here.

I viewed the advert for Theakston's Best Bitter, on the inside front cover of Beer, and thought to be an amusing jibe at craft beer.

"Kumquat in beer? Now there's an idea" I said "For that matter, lark's tongue in aspic flavoured crisps sounds like a fun spoof little gag, had we the resources to pull of such a heist"

It seems to me that there are a couple of ways the established brewing industry can deal with what is by now undoubtedly becoming a major player in the market; craft beer. It can jibe in a most unpleasant and confrontational way or it can join in with the fun in an amusing rebuff whilst maximising on the particular breweries old peculiarities.

Scott seemed to think that the advert was a cheeky slant on craft beer. I thought differently. Firstly, for Theakston to be even able to use the advert the term craft beer has to ring bells. OK, so those bells might be bells of distain for the readership of Beer, but still, it shows a coming of age for craft beer.

But moreover, at a time when there seems to be many people claiming that we should all shout universally that all beer is good, it seems to me that at least one brewery is ready to fight gloves off. I for one welcome this. Theakston absolutely have the right to identify and contrast their own unique selling point; that they believe they were an early craft brewer right back in 1827.

And of course, we have every right to point out that we are a modern brewery, crafting our beers to hit a more progressive, adventurous and open minded drinker. If we choose to put kumquat in our beers to excite our audience, or dry hop the hell out of them, and point out that this is one of the many things that makes us different to the rest of the sometimes rather drab major players, then we have every right to do so.


The Beer Nut said...

Right on Dave! I adore Theakston's Bitter, and Old Peculier. But I'm also an unashamed kumquat*-chaser. When it's all good, it's all good.

(*actually, bit of a 1980s idea of exotic, isn't it? I'd have gone with yuzu or grains of paradise.)

Ron Pattinson said...

I wish you'd stop using the word "progressive". It makes you sound like a shit early 1970's rock band.

Unknown said...

Nutty, I love Theakstons, and in particular Old Peculier.

Ron, you know, I've always had an interest in all sorts of music. The older I get the more interested I become in all sorts of different genres.

It seems you are eluding at a view that says that Prog Rock is shit.

Now, I'll be honest, back in the late 70s and early 80s already a bit of a fan of Prog Rock. As I've gotten older I've listened to various sorts of music, but come back to thinking that Prog Rock is up their with some of my favourites.

Look at the Wikipeadia entry for the genre.

It's tempting to quote you some key points from their. But distilled down Prog Rock looked to explore more complexity in music at the expense of popularity.

Although, Pink Floyd seemed to come through OK despite that and has become what many would say a classic of the era.

I would be most upset if you try telling me they are shit, although obviously if that is your view I guess I should respect that.

Now, I know you are a traditionalist Ron, and that's fine by me. But I do wonder if that is at the expense of anything that might be outside your comfort zone. Resistance to change is a choice you can take, if you like, and that's fine, but I'm all for exploring how beer, like Prog Rock did back in the 70s, can be different, more complex, more challenging and all together more progressive.

So, sorry, I'm going to continue to use the word, thanks.

StringersBeer said...

Of course, Beer Nut, grains of paradise have history in beer. Fact is, just about everything has been chucked in beer at one time or another. The idea that using ingredients other than the big four is a "new", "faddy" or "craft" thing is a myth spread in both !fuddy-duddy" and "progressive" styled marketing.

Sat In A Pub said...

Theakstons is shit and served by cask, kegged or in a bucket, not many sup it round here.

Unknown said...

Indeed Stringers, indeed.

Tyson, now then, don't join the ranks of Ron. I like both Prog Rock and Old Peculier with equal amounts of reminiscent joy.

You see, right back when Bohemian Rhapsody* was in the charts, I was still finding my feet with beer. Yes, I was probably not quite at the age of 18, but my Dad worked in a bar that had it on cask. One New Year's day I woke up with an almighty hangover. It turned out that I hadn't even been sick once. I took this to be a sign of my body's tolerance to aforementioned beverage.

That very day I went on to climb a Lake District mountain with some friends, it was cold, and I kept up with the best. I'm sure it was the carbohydrates in the beer what did it.

I like Theakston's beer.

*Yes, OK, so perhaps Queen doesn't class as Prog Rock, but the few people who might read this comment may not have heard of Emerson Lake and Palmer.

Ron Pattinson said...


I think that should be: "Prog Rock looked to explore more complexity in music at the expense of listenability."

Pretentious rather than genuinely progressive. It was such a relief when punk came along.

I think you'd be very surprised if you heard the music I've made myself. Anything but traditional.

Unknown said...

Well Ron, I'd be interested in hearing the music you've made.Only on that note, I actually like quite a lot of traditional music too.

But, listenability? or drinkability? These, to some extent, are in the ear, palate, or whatever of the beholder.

I find most prog rock most listenable. As it so happens, punk less so. But that's my personal taste.

I still think calling prog rock crap is not real cricket. Indeed, I think the complexities of much more indicate time-signitures, left-field key changes, innovative uses of various instruments and mixing up some very traditional instruments alongside cutting edge electronic instruments made for a much more entertaining experience.

And so, I do see much more parallels with prog rock and craft beer than punk. After all, what's clever about shouting a lot at a microphone, using a few simple power chords and adding swear words?

Ron Pattinson said...


have a listen to the Sex Pistols stuff written by Lydon and Matlock: much more than power chords and swearing.

Please don't tell me you can get pleasure from listening to Tales from Topographic Oceans.

This is one of mine,
ironically called Hoppy Head:

Unknown said...

Yes, Yes, the answer to your question is Yes.

Ron Pattinson said...


that's so, so sad.

Unknown said...

Tales from Topographic Oceans is decent but Close to the Edge, man that record changed my life when I was a teenager raiding my Dads record collection.

But then Unknown Pleasures had just the same amount of influence on me. Just because they're different doesn't mean one is a better than the other, there's a time and a place for both.

StringersBeer said...

Henry Cow. That is all.

Ben Viveur said...

I've known people from all walks of life with musical education levels ranging from fuck-all right up to doctorates who appreciate prog rock.

But, without exception, *every* single person I've ever met who dislikes the genre, calls it 'pretentious' etc. has been someone whose own musical abilities have been lacking. The tone deaf, people who can't read music, people who never studied an instrument, that sort of thing.

I've come to the conclusion that the only people who don't like it are cunts who don't understand it and don't want to make the effort to do so. It's almost identical to 'classical' in that regard.

It happens with people criticising certain traditions and styles of beer too, of course...

Ron Pattinson said...

I can't stand IPA, either.

Stonch said...

You're lacking a sense of humour here, Dave. Advert's quite decent. Your response, less so! All the best for 2015 though old bean. May your dry hops bear fruit.

Unknown said...

Well Jeffrey, you seem to have misunderstood me, I also thought it quite good, and amusing.

My point is we should all embrace our own individualities and play to our strengths. Theakston has done just exactly that. I don't think at any point I said that the advert was rubbish, not funny, or out of order. Indeed I hoped the undertone of my piece brought out my own amusement. This is said explicitly by the paragraph that says "I viewed the advert for Theakston's Best Bitter, on the inside front cover of Beer, and thought to be an amusing jibe at craft beer."

Perhaps you didn't read that paragraph?