Beards, sandals and woolies?
It’s soon after my birthday, the 44th to be precise. I feel that the inevitable coming of middle age is amply demonstrated by something I did last week – I joined the Campaign for Real Ale.
Yesterday, the membership pack landed on my door mat. Newsletter, membership cards, and rather excitingly, 50 pence a pint off vouchers for use when I next find myself in a Wetherspoon’s and in need of real beer. So why did I sign up?
I’ve been enthusiastically consuming British beer for some years now, having dispensed in the main with my love of all things fizzy and lagery. And as the last decade has passed, I have been increasingly heartened to observe that many things which were by a common orthodoxy despised when I was a nipper seem to have found their way back into our national good books. And British ale is most definitely one of those things.
Yes, the days of King Keg, Watneys despised Red Barrel and the rest have well and truly gone, to be replaced by a burgeoning beer scene which has seen CAMRA at the fore front of arguing for quality standards, criticising the big pubco’s, and generally making a noise in favour of the small, local brewer. Let’s face it, we have the ingredients all around us, and hundreds of years expertise in brewing ale. To lose all of that to some vast, anonymous contract brewery based in the foggy plains of Belgium would have been a national tragedy, so let’s celebrate our beer industry with….errr, a beer!
The other effect that the renewed interest in a decent pint has had is a general raising of the bar in pubs. Yes, I’m sure the vast majority of pubs are still noisy, crowded warehouses with watered down Castlemaine on tap, but I am increasingly finding, to my quiet delight, old pubs being renovated and stocking decent beers. Maybe we are rising up slowly and quietly to reclaim the British pub?
Anyway, I’ve come out. I hope this doesn’t manifest itself in a flowing beard and a love of folk music, but as far as British Beer is concerned, I’m officially now a supporter.