Monday, 1 February 2010

A night in the pub

The barman says to her ‘he’s a beer expert, you’re a wine expert, you should all get on’. Then goes off to deal with a wanna-be ancient toff who is moaning about 50p added to his bill. It’s gone 10.20pm and I sip on a pint of Vale’s Gravitas, all tropical fruit and soft mellow hop. ‘Not bad is it,’ says her husband who confesses to drink London Pride until ‘it comes out of my ears’. What an unpleasant image. She works for one of the top wine houses and is down for a couple of days. ‘Would you like another drink,’ says a chap to my right. She says: ‘wine is best because it has layers of complexity that beer doesn’t.’ She looks smug and complacent when I counter with words that talk about the carbonation of beer cutting through fatty food, the yin and yang of hops and malt, the sweet and the sour of the lambic, the world of beer beyond London Pride — a good beer but hardly something that is the Bordeaux of beer, unlike Fuller’s’ Golden Pride, which Michael Jackson used to describe as the cognac of beer. After a lot of friendly banter, we end up like the other’s night’s Villa-Gooners match, a draw (I would have been thankful for that result with the Mancs yesterday) — there’s still a lot of work to be done with the wine world though.
The pic is not the pub where the chat took place, but somewhere I went last week and was totally enthralled by.


  1. What were you doing in my house!

  2. I often find a dichotomy exists between wine buff and beer lovers. To put it simply, the majority of beer lovers I know are humble and personable whereas many of the wine buffs I have come across are aloof and love the sound of their own voice (admittedly I know a couple of beer lovers who once they have a couple of beers inside them are almost impossible to shut up).

    With the beer lover's humility is usually a willingness to try new things and to see the value in experimentation, so while they might not like a particular beer, they can appreciate the idea that formed that beer.

    I also find that beer people are able to appreciate wine whereas wine people simply don't get beer at all.

    Not sure if I had a point there to start of with, but there we go.

  3. The Black Boy in Winchester, it is indeed an enthralling place. I like the upside-down (i believe head-less) goose in a cage and the room with plastic meat hanging from the ceilling.

  4. I like baboons, but I also like donkeys. I wonder which one is best. There's only one way to find out - FIIIGHT!

  5. Wine buffs and, worse, wine snobs are often very ignorant about beer. Their experience of beer includes a few crappy "brands" and not a lot else.

    ‘wine is best because it has layers of complexity that beer doesn’t.’ Hmmm. There is some pretty one dimensional beer out there. and plenty that taste like cleaning fluid. But your buff isn't talking about that, she's talking about the good stuff. If you compare it with GOOD beer it's a pretty close run thing. For me beer wins because of the vast range of flavours and styles etc. After all a few more things go into beer compared with wine (grapes and yeast). Oh and as for complex beer: give her a Russian Imperial Stout or an aged IPA. How's that for complex?

  6. Velky — I recall doign a beer tasting at a wine school in Devon and the chap who organised it (a MW etc) said that his problem with beer was the lack of the acidity he enjoyed so much in his wine, mind you one of the beers I tasted was Duchesse de Bougoyne, which went down a treat.
    Tommyn — great place, the plaster hams are from the Victorian age
    Mental — I agree that beer has a veritable variety of sensuous moments that I would love wine buffs to recognise (though I shy away from the beer is the new wine stuff that I once hollered from the rooftops on the release of the Big Book of Beer in 2005), but I wonder if all they see are pints of wallop and men in floral cardigans with pewter tankards on their belts…

  7. I ran a tasting at a Pinot Noir conferences recently, see

    I expected to run into some of the attitude you describe, I run into it often enougth at work, but I didn't which was refreshing. They were all open and some of them left converted.

  8. I find the wine snobbery extremely tiresome, we beer monsters are all plebs according to the wine-ohs. Then again my wife calls me the 'beer nazi' as I lambast yet another restaurant that keeps its ales chilled along with its lagers. 'Would you chill your best claret?' I ask the waiter....they don't get it. I was at a VERY famous restaurant in Rock, Cornwall when the Sommellier whined on about the various wine offerings but could tell me nothing about the ales....which were produced not a stones throw away. Sad is'nt it?