Home > Beer > Bitter and Jaded: Changing Tastes and Blogger’s Ennui

Bitter and Jaded: Changing Tastes and Blogger’s Ennui

Like a fasting, beatific saint from the early middle ages, I have seen wonderful things. Colours not previously experienced anywhere in my mundane, cruel, mud-sodden, stinking, warty, short, pox-curtailed real life. I have seen gods, angels, demons and castles in the sky: nothing else compares.

More specifically, I’ve caught myself in the middle of a lot of mediocre beer experiences recently, possibly due to increased expectations after 18 months of beer blogging. Pints of slightly earthy brown water no longer satisfy. I find myself trapped in market towns where the pubs only offer endless pumps of perfectly-kept, virtually identical cask boredom.

I used to settle for Guinness. More recently I won’t even tolerate that. I reluctantly opt for the least worst pilsner before quickly moving on to whisky. I’ve even turned to wine in the desperate search for flavour in a flavourless climate. (It’s alright, I’ve discovered).

Recently I ranted a little on Twitter late on a Friday night (tellingly) about how people could possibly have given two shits about cask beer before some genius thought to put New World hops in it. That’s an unfair exaggeration and a slur on many excellent traditional (and yes, even subtle) English beers, but it reflects my increasing view that the majority of cask beers don’t merit my enthusiasm or loyalty. Nor do the majority of keg beers, or the majority of bottled beers.

I seem to have turned myself into a snob. Now there is interesting beer and there is uninteresting beer. Thankfully there’s still a hell of a lot of the former, thanks to hardworking, thoughtful, innovative brewers. These people deserve my money and support.

But as for the rest, I’m no longer prepared to settle for boring cask beer just because it’s cask beer, whether it was brewed in a shed or an aircraft hanger. Nor will I settle for any dull beer, just because it happens to qualify as beer and I’m a “beer drinker”.

Alternatively, perhaps I just need a holiday.

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  1. Gazza Prescott
    June 8, 2012 at 10:41 am

    You need a holiday to explore the delights Europe has to offer hop-wise, but also I totally agree with your comments…. too much cask ale is bland boring hopless sticky-toffee dross and deserves zero respect from anyone who claims to take beer seriously.

    But, accordingly to CAMRA and other such dinosaurs, putting beer in a cask makes it the best beer in the world regardless of it’s ingredients, quantity of production and suchlike.

    • June 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Nothing to disagree with what Gazza says as such. Except. “But, accordingly to CAMRA and other such dinosaurs, putting beer in a cask makes it the best beer in the world regardless of it’s ingredients, quantity of production and suchlike”

      Don’t believe CAMRA says any such thing or that anyone with any sense does.

    • June 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks Gazza. I’d be very happy to go on a hop tour of Europe! Tand pointed me to your very interesting post below when I made the comment on Twitter about New World hops in cask ale, as I was crediting Sean Franklin alone:


  2. June 8, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Nick, I feel your pain, there is so much boring middle of the road downright average beer about at the moment. I wrote a post recently about themed beers which is saying pretty much just that, a whole weekend I faced with hastily rebadged boring beer with some vague reference to Royalty. http://wp.me/p1mN8x-194

    Thank god there are some stunning exceptions to the rule to keep my taste buds happy.

    • June 8, 2012 at 12:13 pm

      Cheers Phil, and thanks very much for the link.

  3. June 8, 2012 at 11:17 am

    “I’m a “beer drinker”. No. You are as you analyse yourself, a beer snob. A beer butterfly. You are starting to lose the basic point of beer and will unless you change your ways, increasingly find the drink dissatisfying. You seek the Will o’ the Wisp of perfection and like a druggie seek new and better highs.

    Sure don’t drink bad beer, or boring beer, but drink well made and satisfying beer. Yes most beer is middle of the road. It has to be or we would have far fewer brewers as they brew beer they can sell to normal people. But there is still plenty of interesting stuff out there.

    And remember beer is a social drink to be enjoyed with friends. It should accompany entertainment, not be, in most cases at least, the actual entertainment itself.

    Feet back on the ground I’d suggest.

    • June 8, 2012 at 11:56 am

      I’m glad we’re agreed that I’m a snob. I appreciate your point about social drinking and the advice about where to place my feet, but at the same time I don’t think I’m a “butterfly”. I have favourite beers by favourite brewers that I go back to over and over again, it’s just that they’re not available in most country pubs in Yorkshire and Cumbria.

      As an individual gains a greater understanding of beer, don’t you think that their rating of what is a good beer and what isn’t will almost certainly change? It’s entirely subjective, but a greater width of experience is likely to change your outlook. It’s even bringing me back round to styles I’d written off when I knew less about beer: I now appreciate really good pilsner, a style which I used to have absolutely no taste for.

      That experience doesn’t mean I don’t like Taylor’s Landlord any more, but it does make me sigh when I have yet another seasonal special that doesn’t seem special at all.

  4. June 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    We had a period when we felt like this but (and I don’t know quite when it happened) we did eventually start to spot ‘brown bitters’ that we didn’t find boring. That probably coincided with giving up on Wetherspoons and Greene King pubs; learning which breweries just didn’t float our boat and all but giving up on them, too; and a general improvement in the quality of beer in London pubs that seemed to happen after about 2008. Cask ale is *so* dependent on the publican that, yes, it is hard to be loyal to a particular brand: a particular beer might taste consistently brilliant in one pub and consistently shite in another two hundred metres down the road.

    • June 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      I think that’s absolutely right. The above isn’t just a tirade about OBBs: I know that there are good ones. As a style though, if I’ve not had it before and am not crazy about the brewery, I’ve learned that the chances of it being good are low.

  1. July 6, 2012 at 7:30 am
  2. July 6, 2012 at 8:29 am

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