Objectivity – Missing In Action?

*On 20th January 1982, I had an epiphany. It was in the Peverel Of The Peak on Chepstow Street in Manchester. One of Manchester’s most venerable pubs and one which plays an enormous part – for many reasons in my Beer “journey”.

The epiphanic beer was Wilson’s Bitter. I had, in my hand, a pint of (gulp) Carlsberg Lager. One taste of the Wilson’s made me put down a near full pint and order a Bitter. I never looked back.

Many would bracket that beer – should it still exist – as “boring brown beer”. A term that is as lazy as it is deserving of ridicule. But it isn’t trendy to call out those who use it. What bollocks!

But that’s the thing with this new orthodoxy. English hops (and the beers that they mostly contribute to) get mocked, while experimentation gets applauded. But here’s a thing….

Last weekend, I say on a judging panel for Stockport CAMRA to help to choose home brewers beers to produce at a local Brewery for drinking at the Stockport Beer Festival in May. The initial judging panel that I was on featured a number of beers where people were attempting strange and wonderful things with hops and other adjuncts. But the best beer, kept it simple. And – shock & horror – used Fuggles & EKG hops.

Prejudice is a bitch, ain’t it?

Next up – the way beer looks.

I’m 50 years old – I know, I know, I look older OK! But unlike some of my age group, I like most beer styles. (I’m yet to truly appreciate Sours, but hey….) And I understand that drinking is about using all of the appropriate senses, sight, smell, touch (feel) and taste.

But, to me – unlike many “fanboys” & “fangirls” it would seem – deeply hazy beer is NOT an attractive thing.

Let’s go back nearly 9 months.

A Brewery (who shall remain unnamed, as this is not their fault) released a beer. It was a “wheat type” Beer. It was cloudy and hazy. I GET that these beers (generally) are likely to be so. But – and here’s the rub – they are uniquely (to me) visually unappealing.

So when people start to coo “Ooh…. That looks delicious… ” My hackles start to rise.

“No it doesn’t! It looks like a syphilitic piss sample!!!!!”

(If I’d have presented such a sample to my doctor, I’d be concerned.)

A beer may smell and taste absolutely lovely – as this beer did indeed. I sampled it in bottle. It was a delight. And I said so at the time.

Fast forward to another beer. Another picture. Another hugely opaque beer.

More social media cooing…… “Ooh…. Looks fabulous….. Must have….. ” That kind of thing….

It looked like carrot juice.

In the empire of the senses, sometimes, not all should be trusted.

Yes. I like my beer to be transparent. I’m kind of old fashioned like that. But I don’t pre judge a beer on what I see. I wait until I taste it.

*And the reason that I know that particular date? I recently stumbled across a website dedicated to the Bristol “Punk Jazz” band, Pigbag, which contained a list of their concerts and noted the date for their rescheduled Manchester gig at Rafters.

It was a memorable night in more ways than one.

9 comments on “Objectivity – Missing In Action?

  1. Got ten years on you so grew up drinking Wilsons at the Horse and Jockey in Chorlton Cum Hardy and Beautiful Golden Boddies Bitter wherever I could find it so I know what you mean. I now drink mainly craft beers where the taste is all but even here a bit of sparkling clarity completes the experience. Love a good sour beer especially by Chorlton Brewing CompNy but often cloud my beer in the act of pouring – but great taste. Will be great to see the outcomes of those trying to replicate some of the older Manchester recipes where the water source was often the key factor.

    Cheers Another Good Read

  2. Cracking post, as usual – I’ve been banging on about wanting to see some new wave craft brewers working with traditional hop atrains for a while now…

    • Cheers. I think my points may have been lost in some people. But when you taste a beer as good as Cheshire Brewhouse’s Govinda IPA, then you get it that great beers CAN be made with English hops. Just takes some thought….

  3. My favourite comment on FB is the guy who says that clear beer now looks alien to him. Losing the plot or what?

  4. Wilsons, eh? Now we know where it all started to go wrong:) Good piece that is doing its job; that is getting people talking about it. The only thing I would say is that a good/great wheat beer, being one of the most complex and interesting styles a brewer can produce, is actually visually appealing to me as I know it’s taken a lot of effort to get it that way. On the other hands, some of the unfined craft brigade seem to use it as affectation.

  5. i am 50 in December and grew up drinking hand pulled Higsons in Liverpool so never have been a lager drinker, and my dad started letting me go to the pub with him probably around my 17th birthday, even now it’s real ale all the way plus a good selection from the local (ish) bootle shops

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