Friday, 17 May 2013

The Gentrification Of Beer

I live in a Northern post-industrial town.  What the place was built to do is long gone, leaving places like the docks and the factories disused and the nearby terraced housing miles from employment opportunities.  The nice people who see these things in the Old North don't like them, and usually have them replaced.  Typically with "new developments" - eg. shop units and flats for urban professionals.  Sometimes it's even successful.  But where do the poor people go?

A similar thing has happened with beer.  Cask ale, once the drink of the working man, has been taken from him and been gentrified, commodified and put in an echoey craft beer bar.  He now drinks lager at one of dwindling number of pubs in which he feels comfortable.  There is the impression that the masses have simply left cask to its own devices, and are simply drinking something that's more fashionable and heavily promoted.

The small gap that remains for cask has been filled by the middle classes, eager as ever to show their superiority over the herd by consuming something of apparent higher quality.  Even "dinosaur" regional breweries are seeking a piece of this market.  Brains of Cardiff, once the drink of dockers and miners, have built a "craft" brewery (and given it it's own website, so nobody could confuse it with the place that makes the industrial dark mild).  Thwaites of Blackburn who, along with trying to dominate the country with Wainwright, have built their "Crafty Dan" microbrewery on-site, which they promise to transport piece-by-piece when they move.  Even Robinsons of Stockport, makers of several oddly-similar tasting bitters proclaim that Dizzy Blonde and Unicorn are "craft beers" on their bottles.

Ironically, if any cask brewery tries to appeal to the workers with lively imagery or coarse humour, they're liable to end up on Pumpclip Parade , probably when a nice middle class educated person wanders into the "wrong" pub by mistake and is horrified by such base culture.  Don't these proles and plebs realise Craft Beer is not for them anymore", they think.

The workers will have their cooking lager, and swallow the middle class propaganda that "decent" beer is beyond their palates  - Let them drink Fosters!


  1. Yes, in general the working classes, or at least those under 50, won't touch cask with a bargepole now.

  2. Come the revolution the cask drinkers will be first up against the wall.

  3. We will be, Cookie. If the lout drinkers aren't taking up the room pissing there.

  4. If you want the working classes to drink real ale, make the campaign about how expensive and exclusive it is. Lager campaigners figured this out years ago. People don't work hard their whole lives to go out in their designer clothes and modified cars only to drink the same stuff their dad did, you know.

    Remember, the only people who actually want to be seen as working class are the middle classes who suddenly remembered some time in the early 90s how they have actually loved football, meat pies, voting Labour, and drinking real ale out of handled glasses their whole lives.