When the Let There Be Beer advert first aired about 9 weeks ago I wasn’t too impressed, to quote my column at the time “it is well produced and attempts to break the stereotypes….but is nothing original.  It could be an advert for any of the big brand lagers if you featured a single brand….has all the trademarks of a ‘lifestyle aspirations’ advert which could be used for any product out there…..also seems to promote home drinking more than pub consumption…should be other way round”.

I assumed with the involvement of CAMRA and SIBA that things would only improve once the campaign got into its stride.  However it appears this was the highpoint of the campaign and since then has just gone downhill.  The first issue is the recruitment of Tim Lovejoy, presenter of several Sunday morning food based programmes.  He really does divide people, half the people would not urinate on him if he was on fire, the other half would pop to the petrol station with a jerry can.   He really does get peoples backs up, crucially just the people they are trying to attract to beer.

However the main reason I am despising this campaign so much is the domination of products from the major brewers funding the campaign, these are InBev, Carlsberg Tetley, Molson Coors,and Heineken.  Of all the beers represented most are made, brewed under license or distributed in the UK by one of these big brewers.  Only Thwaites, Fullers, Meantime, Daleside, Shepherd Neame and Adnams get a look in with a single beer each.  That is a mere 6 out of 38 beer recommended by them.  Hardly representative of the rich and diverse brewing scene we have here in the UK.

Ignoring the numbers, some the beers they recommend are shocking. Fosters, Stella, 1664, John Smiths, Coors Light, Radler, Carling Zest, Carlsberg Export are just an example.  Combined this is a big puddle of massed produced bland rubbish which is a waste of the water used to make it.  Now lets take the crap beer and raise you some of the least inspired food and beer taste matching I’ve ever seen.   These are presented as a series of infomercial style adverts aired in the commercial breaks in Mr Lovejoy’s Sunday morning show on Channel 4.  He visits various restaurants and goes into the kitchen and chats with the chef before giving us recommendation of what to drink.

Remind me never to accept an offer from him to go to the pub because the man has no taste buds based on some of his recommendations.  Episode 1 was Roast Dinner with Johns Smiths and Doom Bar (one of the real ales I’ve never liked and gave many chances).  Episode 2 featured Thai food and suggested Heineken and Cobra beer.  The most recent episode featured BBQ Ribs in conjunction with Carling Zest and Foster Radler.    I’ll start with the first episode, both beers may be smooth, but are bland as dishwater.  There are hundreds of beers out there with a good balance of flavours which would do a far better job, all the selected beer do is wash the food down, something a soft drink could do.

The second (and probably least worse so far) episode again goes for the obvious choice and chucks in one the brewers core brands.  Cobra and Thai food I is a semi-logical choice, I wonder why they didn’t pick Singha, a beer from the same country however.  If you are going to pick a world beer to go with anything, pick the best in your selection, in this case Staropramen rather than Heineken which is a far inferior beer to the Czech choice (and one I was drinking all evening at a wedding over the bank holiday).  When eating at Indian and Thai restaurants I will inevitably end up drinking Kingfisher, Cobra, Singha or Lal Toofan and all are perfectly decent accompaniments to the meal.

However the third and most recent episode has had people who love their ale nearly putting a boot through their 42in plasma TV’s.  Who on gods earth had the idea that BBQ is perfect for getting out the most recent incarnation of alcopops in the form of Carling Zest and Fosters Radler.   BBQ is something which cries out for a good lagered beer from Germany or Czech Republic, or a nice hoppy golden or pale ale of which there are hundreds of UK brewed examples to choose from.  At least if they chose an alcopop they would being more honest with us.

CAMRA and SIBA should be ashamed about their involvement in this big brand promotional vehicle.  So should anyone else for that matter.  Next week I’ve heard its meths and bin reclaimed kebab on the menu, but don’t quote me on that.