Pavlos (pavlos) wrote,

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Beer rant

Why does mass-market British beer have to be so crap? The stuff is undrikable. With centuries of brewing tradition this nation could surely produce fine beer (I mean this literally, not like Paul and his nukes). The Germans manage to produce good beer in large quanitities, as do the French, the Dutch, the Chechs, the Mexicans, and of course the Belgians. What is the problem?

Even in countries where brewing beer is not such a central part of the culture, like Italy, Spain, Greece, or India, perfectly fine lager gets produced (apart from cheap Greek brand Mythos and a cheap Sicilian brand whose name escapes me). Nigerian lager, from what I remember, was good! Japanese lager is excellent, and it's not exactly a small market. Why can't they do that here?

British mass-market lager (to me) tastes like soda water with industrial chemicals. British mass-market dark beer tastes like soapy water with chemicals. I remember my stomach feeling violently ill every time I forced myself to drink more than a pint of either. It doesnt even make you drunk in a pleasant way - it just makes you sick. Why do people drink the stuff?

I thought initially this was a matter of taste. Obviously British people liked a more bitter taste, or reacted differently to the beer. But that is not so. Good British beer from small breweries (Wildcat/Tomintoul, Dark Island/Orkney, Bellhaven, Alloha, Fraoch, Arran) is excellent, as good and interesting as a fine Belgian beer. Some of these ales (like Fraoch, Arran) I personally find too bitter, but I can see that it is good stuff, just different. It doesn't taste of chemicals. It's just the mainstream brands that are undrinkable.

Clearly people must realize that the brands are undrinkable, because the beverage companies keep importing new brands from abroad and destroying them. Initially, they imported Grolsh from Germany, Kronnenbourg from France, Sapporo from Japan, or Heineken from Holland, and they tasted very nice, as you would expect. Then, without warning, they start brewing them in the south of England and they taste of acid and industrial chemicals. Allegedly, even Stella and Guinness taste good in their respective home countries. I'm waiting for them to screw up Budvar and Cruzcampo next!

The newly-destroyed brands are, of course, heavily advertised, but I just don't get this. It's not expensive to buy a beer. Most people drink several in the course of an evening out. Surely they can try different sorts and choose ones they like. It's not like sports shoes or cars where you have to make a choice with very limited personal experience. How does beer advertising have any effect at all, and how does it convince people that they like what they clearly don't.

To buy beer at the supermarket, you have to read the label carefully to make sure that it is not brewed in the UK. What are you supposed to do in a pub? Ask the publican for a pint of anything not brewed in the UK? Apart from being more expensive, the decent and/or imported beer is not widely available. Oddbins has it but Victoria rarely does. The Filmhouse, the Favorit, and the Holyrood have fine beers, but so many other places, like Opium, have nothing but chemical beer and rum/vodka mixers. Argh!


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