Home > Beer, Uncategorized > “Proles and animals are free.”

“Proles and animals are free.”

As this is my first post, I suppose I should set out who I am and what I intend to do with this blog.

I used to write an embarrassingly unfocused Livejournal under a different name for a few years, when I had much more time on my hands. The bit of blogging I did and the comments I received kept me going through some long, boring afternoons that would otherwise have been filled solely with eating own-brand crisps and watching old Doctor Who videos from a video rental shop that no longer exists.

I’ve got out of the habit recently*, partially because I do a lot of writing in my job and feel particularly uninspired when I get home at night.  I wanted to do something to help myself enjoy writing for its own sake again.

I’ve decided to write a blog about beer and pubs because I happen to be most interested in them at the minute.  However, I should explain that this blog is intended to be a record of someone exploring beer as a relative novice, with some experience of bar work and more of drinking, but no special knowledge of brewing, beer styles or even a CAMRA membership card.  I am therefore, in beer terms, definitely not a member of the Inner Party, or even the Outer Party.  I am a  beer prole.

This blog will likely come across as the uninformed ramblings of an overenthusiastic wannabe beer geek, relative to the excellent beer blogs that I enjoy reading.  For this, I apologise.

However, I do really like good beers and good pubs.  I regard the relative merits of both as almost entirely subjective, but also worthy of explanation and discussion. 

I intend to write a few posts over the coming months about how, from what might be described as an inauspicious start, I have come to love beer and pubs and why that is the case.  In particular, I grew up in County Antrim, Northern Ireland for eighteen years, went to university in Scotland for four and have ended up in living in Yorkshire for the last eight.  I hope to say something about the relative beer and pub cultures as I experienced them.

I also intend to write about my favourite pubs and beers now.  Difficult as it might be to believe, Leeds provides a great range of pubs, from friendly traditional locals like The Grove in Holbeck, with its real fire and pub dog to excellent, more modern bars like The North Bar, with a huge selection of imported bottles, cheese & bread and free wifi.  For home drinking, Beer Ritz is the best beer off-licence you could hope for.

I chose the name of this blog partially, as explained above, because I don’t want to make any claims to being an especially sophisticated or knowledgeable beer writer.  But I also chose it because I’ve always liked George Orwell and, whilst beer people always bang on about The Moon Under Water, it’s good to remember the vivid but less pleasant picture of a pub he painted in Nineteen Eighty-Four, with the rambling old prole going on about how he can’t get pints any more and how the beer was better before the revolution. 

“May I offer you a drink?” he said.

“You’re a gent,” said the other, straightening his shoulders again. He appeared not to have noticed Winston’s blue overalls. “Pint!” he added aggressively to the barman. “Pint of wallop.”

The barman swished two half-litres of dark-brown beer into thick glasses which he had rinsed in a bucket under the counter. Beer was the only drink you could get in prole pubs. The proles were supposed not to drink gin, though in practice they could get hold of it easily enough. The game of darts was in full swing again, and the knot of men at the bar had begun talking about lottery tickets. Winston’s presence was forgotten for a moment. There was a deal table under the window where he and the old man could talk without fear of being overheard. It was horribly dangerous, but at any rate there was no telescreen in the room, a point he had made sure of as soon as he came in.

”‘E could ‘a drawed me off a pint,” grumbled the old man as he settled down behind a glass. “A ‘alf litre ain’t enough. It don’t satisfy. And a ‘ole litre’s too much. It starts my bladder running. Let alone the price.”

You can be assured that that this is not an accurate summary of my opinions on beer, weights and measures or indeed bladder volume.  I don’t feel left behind by history and am especially excited about trying new, innovative, boundary-pushing beers rather than just falling back on “the usual”.  But more to come on that.

Thanks for reading. 

* Of writing, not of eating crisps and watching Doctor Who videos.  Although it’s all Kettle Chips and DVDs these days.

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  1. November 15, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    It’s interesting, I think, that Orwell has the old prole drinking dark mild (“wallop”) – and while Orwell was obviously making the glasses half-litre to help emphasise how different 1984 was to 1948, and give the prole somthing else to moan about, it’s a sign that neither he nor his editors/readers really knew how much a half-litre was, since it’s barely 10 per cent less than a pint – not that noticeable unless you’re looking hard.

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