As you know, I am not a big fan of big brand lagers. Fosters, Carlsberg, Carling, Stella, Kronenberg and their ilk do nothing for me at all.  However I am not against all lagers or lagered beers to be more correct.  The Germans and Czechs do some excellent examples and I have recommended them in the past.  Its the same when it comes to ale, the big brands like John Smiths, Greene King and Tetley’s are not interesting beers and can go down my throat unnoticed without a hint of aftertaste.  A good ale can linger on my taste buds for a long time after I have finished the beer.

I mention this because of a discussion I have been following after a fellow beer writer of mine, Pete Brown, published an article asking if we should be critical of beers we do not like.  This piece of writing partly stemmed from the internal debate regarding Keg v Cask within CAMRA I touched on last week.

It’s argued that we should celebrate beer full stop.  What cannot be argued that without the brands I mentioned above a lot of pubs would not exist.  For the large number of pubs which don’t sell real ale or speciality lagers at all or in any significant numbers, it keeps the wolves from the doors, and the more pubs which stay open, then the more places that could convert to selling real ale in the future.  The same can be said of the drinkers, some of which will be sold into real ale and some not.

You see this at a local level, with many pubs who were serving mainstream beers and ales only, are now having a guest pump.  Most of the time this dispenses one of the larger brewers output, typically Timothy Taylor, Black Sheep or Copper Dragon.  These beers generally open the door to a second pump and more adventurous selections of beer over time.

As a comparison you could say that high sales volumes of Ford Ka’s are as important to the car industry as the smaller volume, but higher value sales of the Audi TT.  A number of the Ka owners will eventually progress to own a TT, some will settle for the Ford Mondeo, and some will keep buying the latest Ka.  The Ka acts as a gateway to motoring, as does mainstream beer  to the world of more refined ale, with people looking the past the basic spec products eventually to see what better experiences are out there in beer.

Most people will adopt real ale as regular beer with differing frequencies if they are induced to try a good quality example, some will resist all efforts to convert them, however some go all the way and become what is termed “extremophiles” when it comes to real ale, and refuse to consume anything which isn’t.  All 3 groups are tied in a embrace in which one party supplies people or the demand which allows their chosen product to be commercially viable to another party.

To quote an American who commented on the original article, When asked “What do you do with a die hard Bud fan?” they simply responded “Pat them on the back and send them on their way.”.  This sums up my feelings exactly, let them take their own path with no hard feelings.

My feeling on whether we should support all beers, as a trade yes, as individual products or brewers which don’t make the mark, no.  We need to move people towards better quality beer, as this will force the big brands to move with the market, and we bring the quality of beer as a whole to a higher level.  We see this already with the big players bringing more refined brands from Europe onto the UK market.

It’s been a relatively quiet week on the local front for me, save for a Saturday lunchtime visit to the Ship Inn at Brighouse and a few pints of my favourite regular beer, Osset Silver King at my local, the Cock and Bottle.  At the Ship Inn I had my first chance to sample one of Thwaites 2011 Signature beers.   This one was Crowning Glory at 4.3%, a malty ruby red beer, and I was impressed. With nice body and flavour, the beer brewed for the 6 nations rugby tournament hit the spot.

Until next week Happy Supping.