When I hear figures high up in the beer marketing industry talk in similarly swivel eyed evangelic tones, I guess I am hearing pleas for a unified theory of beer — it’s all beer and we must support it all to beat off the big bad wolf of tax, neo-prohibitionists, wine drinkers and the nanny state. There is no such thing as bad beer. I beg to differ. Yes there is and it’s not just those beers with sweetcorn on the nose. There are cask beers I regard as poor, while some craft keg can come across as chilled hop juice. However, bad beer or not it’s up to people to make their choice. I won’t be looking in through the windows of their homes and pulling a face at them.
The upcoming Independent Manchester Beer Convention is one of the most exciting beer events for ages (and sadly I cannot make it). However, looking at the beer list, if it were embracing a unified theory of beer, the convention would also be selling John Smith, Carling, Newcastle Brown Ale, the usual suspects of cask beer and remaindered bottles of Animee, which it isn’t. I hope that the convention will kick off a new model of beer festival (operating in tandem with the more conventional ones), and it also has a pleasing and refreshing bias in the beers it has picked. No unified theory of beer here and rightly so.
And while I’m in beer philosophy mode, my only comment on how to define what craft beer is: it’s like defining love. You know when you’re in love, you don’t need a guide or guides to tell you so. I know that London Pride isn’t craft (which doesn’t mean it’s bad), but the Past Masters series is, while every new brewery that claims to be craft isn’t but some might just be.