Turn And Face The Strange …

Boak and Bailey’s current posting was kind enough to mention my recent article on pitched lager, and also drew attention to an interesting post, here, by English blogger Alec Latham. The writer explains that at 39, he feels betwixt and between in the beer scene.

He describes an incident where he really enjoyed a double IPA yet knows that such expensive and fashionable beers are often viewed as baubles by an older generation, stalwarts of fine cask bitter at a good price.


And of course he likes those beers too, so feels rather torn, as he appreciates what each generation enjoys but feels fully part of neither.

I’m a quarter-century older than he, so I get it, but even more so. I’ve seen seven or eight shifts in the beer scene here since the 70s, and doubtless there will be a few more until we depart this vale.

My counsel to the writer is, you must decide at day’s end what is good and valuable. Stick to that, and the rest is the buzz and the fashion. Sure, it can be fun but will often spell nothing of permanent value.

Recently, an old pal told me, you talk too much about old beers, meaning probably some 80s-90s craft beers, Anchor Steam beer, Pilsner Urquell, classic English beers, and other stars of the “past”. To some, the valid experiences are those of now. Similarly, some whose formative beer experiences were in the 70s or 90s have firm favourites representative of that era, and will taste nothing else.

For those whose tastes were formed, and fixed, in a previous time, the cost of the newer beers sometimes puts them off. Often too it is their strangeness, which can take in the packaging or labelling, which gives them a gimcrack impermanence.

In truth though, one never knows what will be of enduring value. Beers that seemed weird or trendy when first issued can end by being classics. Many more will be flashes in the pan, destined for recording in soon-to-be-remaindered beer books but not much else.

I feel that at its best pumpkin beer, which really is spiced ale previous eras would have appreciated (but even setting that aside) is a great addition to the beer lexicon. It doesn’t bother me many don’t agree. A similar winner is black IPA. And ditto for those who think it is an abomination.

Yet I don’t stand by most sours. For me.


The best advice is, stick to your guns and don’t apologize for what you think is good (or not so grand). You will end by being a composite of all the eras.

Where the blasts from the past are still on the market, buy them without fear or favour, that is, with a view to palate.

Obviously pocket book is important, few can afford to buy everything they want. But within your means, buy what you think offers the best taste experience. Whether the person next to you agrees with it or not is by the by.

Note re image: the image above was sourced from the Signbuyer website, here. All rights therein or thereto belong to the sole owner or authorized users. Image believed available for educational and historical purposes. All feedback welcomed.





2 thoughts on “Turn And Face The Strange …”

  1. Thanks for all the attention Gary. Really an honour to get referenced by you (I’ve subscribed to your blog for some time on Google+). You’re right that it’s important to just like what you like. Everyone’s palate is unique. I play on (and embellish) the older/younger divide in Britain. This is in large part because of CAMRA of which I’m a proud but heretical member. I whinged about that particular experience in Bermondsey but it’s still one of my favourite breweries and that scene still excites me. I’m equally happy in a traditional pub having a laugh with the old codgers (even if they’re not always aware they’re being funny). I think you’d agree that beer’s become such a vast magisterium. I celebrate the divisions and tribes within it. Thanks for posting and keep up the always informed work.

    • Thanks Alec, both for the kind words in my regard and the sage addendum on the beer scene in all its plenitude.

      In the end for me and I suspect many who blog on beer, the quality of the beer is the thing, and it can take many forms.

      All the best and I will follow henceforth the blog with interest.


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