Thursday 7 July 2016

The Pursuit of Homogeneity

Castle, yesterday

In my latest much-commented-upon eccentric decision, I'm presently on holiday in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Sure, you can go to places like Barbados or Aruba or Hawaii, but what could those locations possibly offer in comparison to the view I can see from my hotel room presently?

Anyway, as unpromising as this location may appear, it is a five minute walk from the the local Craft bar, Ten Green Bottles (which I mentioned here a few months back).  To be fair, Castle does lack obvious entertainment options (unless you're a connoisseur of demolition/building sites or Butters John Bee signs) so I have spent much of the last 24 hours in establishments such as this.

The aforementioned Craft bar is, well, Craft.  I'm sure anyone who reads this will know what that entails.  I myself know what to expect, and didn't blanch when quoted £6.50 for a single can of Beavertown Bloody Notorious.  It's the going rate for such things, or so I'm told.  And after that somewhat hefty alcohol hit, I decided to go on a 15 minute walk to the the local beer-led (as in both cask and craft) place, The Hop Inn on Albert Street.
Craft, yesterday

I let myself into the Lounge Bar and saw Dark Star Espresso was on. Fair enough, and ordered a pint of that.  While I was halfway down said pint, the bar manager climbed onto the bar to amend the "Craft Keg" blackboard. "Ooh, What's on next?" I thought.  Yes, The Hop Inn now had Beavertown Bloody Notorious on draught.   An otherwise unpromising North Staffordshire market town now had two places that served the Craftiest thing you could think of on a cloudy Wednesday evening in July.

Me? I'd had it already so had a pint of Bass next instead.  Then it occurred to me - Bass is likely now to be more difficult to find in this town than 9.1% Blood Orange Collaboration Double IPA, which would have been unthinkable even five years ago.

This is the strange thing about Craft Beer drinkers. They like their sours, saisons, imperial stouts and double IPAs.  And they want to find them wherever they go. Preston, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Derby. Peterborough - if it has a Craft bar, then this is what it must do.  The actual brewers of said beers must vary, but the styles have to be there lest the bar or town be condemned as boring or behind the times.  While the Crafty types condemn "boring" golden ales or bitters that were ubiquitous 20 years ago, their pursuit of novelty has simply resulted in a new kind of homogeneity.

Don't get me wrong, I like the Craft stuff. I wouldn't have paid £6.50 for that can if I didn't. But I do like a more diverse experience than some of the more fashion-oriented beer types seem to be looking for.  If the march of Craft wipes out or even diminishes the more traditional beer styles in the name of "awesomeness", then beer culture will be much the poorer for it.
Old man beer, yesterday

Homegeneity created in the name of diversity.  The Law of Unintended Consequences.  Who knows?  Get down the pub and order a pint of bitter. You may even like it.


  1. That Bass looks nearly as good as the Lidl car park.

    1. The Hop Inn prefers "lived-in glasses", I think. It cleared well enough though. Barmaid said they sell loads of it.

  2. £1.90 now in Sams. Craft prices infect everything.

  3. I'm on a brown bottled bitter kick at the moment (he said, averting his eyes from the nearby glass of IPA) - Adnams' Best and Butcombe were OK to good and TT Boltmaker & Brakspear Oxford Gold were excellent. And it's not easy to find any of those on tap (although I did have a Boltmaker on Tuesday).

  4. > This is the strange thing about Craft Beer drinkers.

    It's the strange thing about pretty much everyone, isn't it? There's plenty of trad real ale drinkers would go to Bruges or Bamburg or Boston and moan about how they can't get a decent pint of cask bitter...

  5. As the American political philosopher Thomas Sowell said, "The next time some academics tell you how important diversity is, ask how many Republicans there are in their sociology department."

    You could paraphrase that as "The next time some crafties tell you how important diversity is, ask how many brown bitters are on sale in their craft beer bar."

  6. Loads. They call them "Amber" now.