Who was it that said, “I never make predictions, and I never will!”? Well, it wasn’t Charlie Brooker, Guardian columnist and TV’s Screen Wipe writer, scourge of the mediocre. And despiser of new year resolutions, it seems. In his column on 8 Jan he says of resolutions, “You think of something you enjoy doing, and then resolve to stop doing it, thus giving them the longevity of a Christmas tree withered by a month of central heating.”
January does though, give at least the idea of a clean slate. As I toasted in the new year with a bottle of Mikkeller Fra… Til.. dark winter ale, I thought about what I would like to see and what I would like to change in 2012. So, no resolutions and no predictions…
1. A bigger range of bottled beers in pubs
Especially pubs serving food. OK, most of the point of a British pub is to drink the fine draft beers. Increasing the range of bottled beers will allow a pub to serve a much greater diversity of styles to suit the dishes they serve. Take a leaf out of Leeds Brewery/The Midnight Bell collaboration, as seen in my post on Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain programme on Channel 4. And pubs: offer beers you can’t get in the supermarket. You’ll be able to charge more. And while I’m on that subject…
2. Hike the price of good (craft) beer in pubs
What do you mean the Chancellor already did? Leave the ordinary stuff alone. but make good cask and craft keg reassuringly expensive, to recall an old campaign. Well, a bit dearer, anyway. What do you mean people will just stay at home and pay supermarket prices? What do people pay for a bottle of Becks in a pub, £3.50? That’s like seven quid a pint. For Becks. Don’t even get me started on wine. Stand up for being the premium products they are. I’d much rather more money went to the great small breweries we have in the UK. Excellence should be rewarded.
3. Think big, drink small
When it comes to the bigger beers, pints are for wimps. Yes, that’s right; it’s halves that are for the daring. And thirds are for superheroes. Don’t chicken out and have a pint for your man/womanhood. Your brain, liver, and palate will thank you for that half of ESB. You can then “afford” a snifter of Magic Rock Human Cannonball. If only pubs and bars had more third pint glasses… Wait a minute; Ember Inns already do, for their tasting racks. (Three thirds for less than the price of the pint.) You could even do a round of two halves for standard strength beers. That is, until two-thirds glasses catch on. Daily mirror article from November 2011.
“Brewed with the finest malt and choicest hops.” It says on far too many labels. Stop it now! Whisky is hardly better: “The purest water flowing down through the glens.” Rubbish. What if my headlines said: “Written with the most descriptive words and crafted punctuation”? Oh, and while I’m dealing with imprecision, stop this “Brewery Conditioned” nonsense. Beer: is it pasteurised? Filtered? Whisky: is it coloured? Chill-filtered? 5. Buy stuff from specialist retailers
When it comes to malt-based beverages, supermarkets are, on the whole, beige with the odd touch of inspiration. And because their ranges are a bit slow moving, you are way better off buying the beer and whisky you really want to drink by going to specialist online beer and whisky shops. At the same time, you get to support the real artisans of malt. Unless you live in Sweden, in which case, you’re more-or-less already catered for. Jammy gits.
My Brewery Tap’s Pick-and-mix range
The Whisky Tasting Club
6. More food and beer together
Writing and talking about Beer with food and cooking is the best way of introducing people to the diverse world of beer styles. I received an honourable mention in the Beer and Food category from the British Beer Writers Guild in December, and this made clear for me a direction for The Nightjar in 2012. I recommend you go to or give a beer dinner; I certainly will.
Damn!, I nearly made it through the whole post without a prediction. Sorry Charlie.