The boy in the bubble

I’ve been in reflective mood of late as you may have gathered in my recent post on taking a break from the beer, made even more so by some of the comments made and in particular a link posted within them by Leigh. The linked post was from a beer blogger who decided to call it a day back in 2009, written a while ago but loads of it just rings so true today. (read it here, it’s worth a look)

Moving on, todays rambling relates to something that happened a few weeks back that sort of brought a few things home to me. The event itself is of no import, nor are the folks I was with, whose identity will remain anonymous to protect the innocent, as in truth they are just that.

I was out in Manchester with a large group folks about 12 – 14 who just so happened to be all men which again has no relevance other than to hint at the reason for the gathering. From that group I would say maybe two others plus myself have an active interest in things beery. We stumbled into one of Manchester’s many fine beer establishments, this after spending a few hours in some of her worst. The one in question has Scottish roots and shall we say has “canine connections”, again though this itself is not important as it could quite have easily have been one of the others with a slant for “craft”, high-end beers.

As soon as I entered I approached the bar, eyes wide and grinning like I’d just won the lottery. I scanned the board excitedly and quickly picked out a raspberry sour beer as a light refreshing quencher to have before I hit the strong stuff. Bright pink beer in hand I turned to the party to try to help them pick out something they would like, as clearly most would not have set foot in the place out of personal choice, that presumption based on the short time I had spent with some of them.

Some listened, tasted and bought a beer and even showed real interest, in fact I would say that maybe one or two of them would be going back and searching for more. In truth though, most just wanted to grab something quickly and go, with a good proportion of those in the end not actually even bothering at all, trudging out with a collective mumbling and shaking of heads. It was all just a bit too alien, perhaps even intimidating to these guys who probably normally just drink macro lagers or bitter in a couple of local pubs.

Sad beerIt didn’t matter a jot that this beer had been crafted using a blend of seventeen specially selected different malts, each grain individually hand roasted by a one hundred year old master maltster.

The freshly imported cacao nibs and french brandy barrel ageing impressed them even less.

All tongue firmly in cheek of course but the sentiment is there, it wasn’t that important, they just wanted a beer to drink socially and for the alcohol content which is completely fine if that is your bag.

Like I said earlier, this isn’t aimed at any of my fellow drinkers that day, as they are surely a decent representative cross-section of the majority of British beer drinkers, they have to be or Carling wouldn’t be the best-selling beer in the UK. It’s about me and you and I can say you with some confidence as if not, you wouldn’t likely be reading this in the first place.

Personally speaking I have a real desire to spread the word, to evangelise about the great beers I taste and do so regularly, in truth probably a little too often. Oh and I definitely do moan and whinge a lot about what I think is boring bland run of the mill “twiggy” beer, that ends up selling quite nicely thank you very much. But I do also want to open a bar of my own some day, or at least run one and would love that to be here in the Stoke On Trent area, blazing the trail so to speak, so these things are equally important considerations.

I’m not sure where all this is going, but what I’m attempting to get at in this long meandering grumble is that in that moment in that bar, I felt very much in the minority, which was weird as it was in one of the places I would normally feel most comfortable. Almost alone in a self-indulgent bubble of what I think are the “best beers” around and the best places to find them, but all of which clearly has a long way to go to reach the same dizzy heights with the rest of the population.

There’s definitely a light at the end of that tunnel, but who knows how long that tunnel is or if we’ve enough steam to get through it…?