Monday, 2 January 2012

I’m not drinking that muck!

Out of 80 poll respondents, 43 wouldn’t be prepared to let the likes of Carling, John Smith’s or Guinness pass their lips if caught at a party or function where there was no “decent” beer available. Sorry folks, but whatever the motivation, that comes across as a pretty snobby attitude to me. Scant sign of the “all beer is good” inclusiveness there.

Would the whisky snob drink Bell’s, or the wine snob drink Aussie Chardonnay? I think they would, if there was no better alternative. This underlines the key point about beer snobbery. Whisky snobbery, wine snobbery, even car snobbery, all serve to enhance the entire category by encouraging aspiration. On the other hand, beer snobbery all too often denigrates the ordinary and sets up an unhelpful them-and-us attitude.


  1. Sounds pretty snobby to me too - especially because my hunch is people in your poll are choosing to drink something other than beer not on taste but because they don't want to be seen to be drinking something mainstream.

    Are people saying they'd opt for a Babycham over a Guinness if that was the only choice?? You'd never see such little loyalty amongst wine drinkers as you point out - they'd swill some right filth before they'd move out of wine and you're offering a selection of perfectly palatable beers. If only beer had the same loyalty from it's drinkers as wine and spirits they might not be taking so much market share.

    Your last sentence is absolutely bang on - we need to celebrate beer, all beer.

  2. I certainly wouldn't celebrate all beer. But I would drink it if there's noting else going!

  3. I would rather go without and i'm not ashamed to say it. beer isn't a necessary thing to an enjoy an evening and if i want one, i want to enjoy it. in the same way as i would go without cheese if only kraft slices were available, I'm not so desperate to get alcohol in me that i'll drink stuff i know i don't like (and that goes for micro and macro stuff alike)

  4. I think you have to consider that it's not all about snobbery.if I was faced with that choice I'd maybe drink the odd one before going in search of something different. I just think one of them are to my personal taste and from experience I'd be bored in minutes..
    However on a recent trip abroad I had the finest pint of Guinness outside of Dublin I'd ever had & against my principles returned to it often over ten days against local beer.
    Turning the argument around, my brother will turn his nose up at anything but Carling Extra Cold even when given the choice of even the finest of worldly renowned lagers etc, he just likes the taste and nothing else will do.

  5. I confess to being a bit of a snob when it comes to whisky. There aren't really any I'd refuse totally but some are only drinkable with a mixer.

    As for beer, I'll try anything. This New Year I even tried Tesco's own-brand cider. It's not bad, and at £1.80 for four cans it's a good price too. But then I'm no cider expert.

    I've never understood those people - and I know several - who, no matter where they go, will only drink one kind of beer. Where's the fun in that?

  6. I normally respond to your polls Mudgie, but I stayed away from this one. The question is a fair one, albeit a bit loaded... ;-)

  7. Rather than stay at a party chocker with "real" ale sippers
    I would prefer a Chuckle Brothers
    fan club AGM in a Wetherspoons or
    a Clog and Shawl Revival night in Uppermill.

    Waiting for the Enlightenment

  8. I'm not getting something here. If you asked

    If you were meeting a friend in a pub and found it was only serving Carling and John Smiths Smooth, would you have a pint anyway or order something else?

    I would answer just the same way, i.e. the latter. I've been a CAMRA supporter all these years because I like cask beer; I think old-school keg is a pale imitation at best. You could even say that cask beer is real ale. (Neat phrase, eh? It'll never catch on.)

    In other words, I think you've just defined CAMRA as a snobbish campaign group...

  9. From Dave Atherton.

    To be fair PC I do sincerely like wine and if a decent beer is not available I am happy to drink that. I really do not like any beer out of a can.

    I would drink Guinness in a keg only pub and Carling with a curry or have a pint when the weather is really hot. However I can be as common as muck and start off with a couple of pints and then move onto a glass of wine.

  10. @Phil - the premise of the question is that you are in a "closed" situation, so you can't easily move on somewhere else, as you could if meeting a friend in a pub.

    It's comparable to the real ale zealot who goes on holiday somewhere hot and refuses to let a drop of San Miguel, Mythos, Efes or whatever pass his lips.

  11. I think to say that if people don't want to drink non "decent" beer that they're a snob is a bit ridiculous. I enjoy drinks other than "decent" beer even when it is available. I don't like crap beer so I chose to drink something else that I like. I don't think that makes me a snob.

  12. I tend to go for any Lager when a decent ale is not available.

    Mainstream lagers are cold and fizzy and quite tasteless, so they are inoffensive - poor bitter like John Smiths is quite offensive.

    PS - I used to love John Smiths when it was a Bitter ;)

  13. I've said myself in the past that I find cooking lager much more palatable than nitrokeg ales.

    And they still produce John Smith's cask.

  14. I know John Smiths do still the cask ale Curmudgeon but something changed in the mid-80s and it became less of a bitter Bitter :(

    They jumped on the 'bland sells' bandwagon when lager sales started taking over from the good old pint of bitter :(


  15. Hmm. Two thoughts:

    1. I know a couple of people who reckon they know about wine and they tend to go to gin and tonic or soft drinks if there's no wine on offer they like the look of.

    2. Isn't the logical conclusion of this line of argument that if what's on offer is Carling, Guinness and, say, Thornbridge Kipling, you should drink Carling anyway, if that's what most other people are on, to avoid any suggestion that one beer is better than another, or that you've got better taste? Sounds a bit like asking people to subsume their personal preferences for the greater good... What next? One state-approved utility beer for everyone? (This last comment is slightly flippant, I feel I should point out.)

  16. I don't feel like a snob, but I'd have a definite pecking order for what's available.

    1. Real Ale.
    2. Decent bottle (budvar)
    3. Spirit / spirit & mixer / cocktail.
    4. Red Wine.
    5. Carling / guiness / john smiths.

    By the time you're down to Carling, I find it pretty much undrinkable. It's actually unpleasant after more than 1 desperate pint.

  17. I'd rather drink a couple of pints of something I enjoy than a few pints of something I dont. I dont see it as snobby to not drink something I dont like the taste of.

  18. I'm with Eddie on this one. Also with Sid. As a matter of interest, don't you think your current poll is loaded? Why would a full pint mean the loss of handpumps? Conflating the two will surely give a loaded outcome?

  19. The poll results don't say what you want them to say.

    It's a leap from "prefer some drinks to others" to "snob".

    If a restaurant only serves steak in a mushroom sauce, I'll have something other than steak. That doesn't make me a snob.

  20. "The poll results don't say what you want them to say."

    I don't "want" them to say anything.

    "If a restaurant only serves steak in a mushroom sauce, I'll have something other than steak. That doesn't make me a snob."

    A better comparison would be an enthusiastic meat-eater choosing the vegetarian option because a particular dining outlet only served burgers.

  21. ... and they don't like burgers?

  22. I'm afraid I think you are wrong. I know plenty of whisky and wine drinkers who would certainly not drink what they consider to be inferior brands.

    I do get the argument that we shouldn't actively denigrate a product just because we feel it is beneath us, but to actively embrace everything as equally as good fails to encourage excellence.

  23. The analogy only holds for burgers if we admit that there are different kinds of burgers -- gourmet 100% steak, well-seasoned burgers, and burgers that taste like reconstituted cardboard dipped in bisto.

    You seem to wish to deny that some beer is better than others, and that some beer is worse than other non-beer beverages.

    I might drink a Guinness once in a while, but in general if the choice is John Smith's, Carling, or Guinness, then I'll choose "fruit juice" or "gin and tonic". That's not snobbery, that's choosing a drink that I enjoy.

    You might disagree, and you might well enjoy Carling, John Smith's, and Guinness, but don't call others snobs for disagreeing with you.

  24. My, this one seems to have rattled a few cages ;-)

  25. I sometimes drink stella, I feel diry now.

  26. It's not snobbish. I won't pay for products that I actively dislike.

  27. So, let me get this right. You claim to be beer lovers, but when at a function the only beer available is that crap that the plebs drink, like Carling, even though it's free, instead you choose to drink the Carling equivalent in other drink categories, which you know less about than beer.

    And you try to tell me that:

    (a) you're not being a beer snob, and
    (b) you're not cutting off your nose to spite your face


  28. See Alan McLeod's post here.

    As he says, it's a matter of basic courtesy towards your host.

  29. Ah. I think, once again, we sort of agree, once all the qualifiers and modifiers have been shaken out of the question.

    So this isn't a big anonymous party where no-one is paying attention to what you're drinking? And, if you don't drink Carling, you have to drink wine or spirits (all of which are also not 'decent')? There are no soft drinks?

    And, if you refuse the Carling, the host will definitely be offended?

    Didn't get all of that in the question but, yeah, if those are the conditions, then you take the Carling, like Alan says, especially if, as he also suggests, you don't actually have to drink it, if you really don't like it.

  30. "the only beer available is that crap that the plebs drink, like Carling"

    I've never thought Carling was just for 'plebs', it's just that Carling is a very very poor example of something which can be very nice. It's such a poor example, that more often than not I'd prefer just a glass of cheap red wine, or even just a coke.

    I still love beer, but bad beer is bad beer.

    If this makes me a snob, them I'm happy to be a snob with standards.

  31. Have never considered turning up my nose at junk such as Carling makes me a beer snob. It's just that I appreciate good beer and would rather not drink any beer if that's all that is available (as proven this week when I turned down the only beer offering Peroni in favour of admittedly very good New Zealand white wine). I find it more annoying that such a high percentage of the beer drinking public seem still to think Carling, Fosters or some other such junk constitutes beer. My practical solution when attending a party is to take my own (with a couple of spares for the host), Just for the record, I NEVER drink any such beers.

  32. So in order to not be considered a beer snob I have to drink something I don't enjoy? I don't pass judgement on people who enjoy Carling (unless I'm winding Kristy up), I just don't enjoy it myself. I don't follow this way of thinking...

  33. I think you're a little trigger-happy with the accusations of snobbery here, Mudgie.

    In order of preference, I'd drink:

    1) Something else, if there were a decent wine or gin & tonic (even Gordon's - while hardly my favourite - is a decent gin)

    2) Failing anything else, the Guinness.

    I wouldn't feel hard done by with the Guinness - but if there were a decent wine or a reasonable gin, I'd prefer those. Above all, I'd like a lovingly-produced beer.

    This isn't snobbery - it's an order of preference.

  34. "There are no soft drinks?"

    Is Coke, in the overall scheme of things, any "better" a product than Carling?

  35. I actually like Guinness. Not so keen on Carling (weasel watter) or John Smiths, but I'd drink them if that's all that was on offer.

    I was born at home in '49, and the Doctor advised my mother to drink a bottle of Guinness a day (for the iron, and because, he said, it improved her breast milk). He also suggested that it would be a good idea to give me a few teaspoons of Guinness at night, also for the iron, but more, I suspect, to make me sleep better!

    So anyway, I've always been rather keen on the black stuff.

  36. Not sure I agree with your reasoning here, Mudgie. I'm a beer drinker, first and foremost and I'll drink anything. I only drink whisky occasionally, so can't be considered a whisky snob. But I usually drink malt because it's nice. If the only whisky that was available was Bells then I just wouldn't drink it - it's like drinking petrol. I'd rather drink plonk, Carling or even Coke, if that was the only option. Yet that somehow makes me a whisky snob? I don't quite get your reasoning.

    I mean, I wouldn't drink Bells if the host poured it out of a Laphroiag bottle - one sip and I'd know it was nasty, even if I initially thought it was Laphroiag. How does that make me a snob? It just means that I know what I do and don't like.

  37. Well, I like orange juice, and quite like Coke, so, yes, I'd rather drink them than Carling. After all, they're going into my gob, so it's the definition of a personal choice. I think they taste nicer. (Remember, taste is subjective. Not saying Coke's 'better', just that I prefer it.) You're assuming (I think) that people always choose drinks for ideological reasons. In fact, most of the time, it's much more instinctive: at this point in time, what do I fancy drinking?

    For what it's worth, if I turned up at a party and all they had was that Brewdog beer that was 45% abv or whatever, I'd probably drink soft drinks too. I can't imagine I'd fancy it.

  38. Isn't saying that if you're a beer lover, you should be prepared to drink any beer whatsoever (as Curmudgeon and Kristy suggest) rather like saying if you're a football fan you should support every team?

  39. you try to tell me that:

    (a) you're not being a beer snob, and
    (b) you're not cutting off your nose to spite your face

    We can't win in this scenario - drinking something I know I'm going to dislike, just because it's beer, seems like the definition of cutting off your nose to spite your face.

    As a CAMRA supporter I feel no obligation to be an enthusiast for all beer everywhere. CAMRA has never been a campaign "for beer"; we've never had Prohibition in this country, there was always lots of beer available. It was founded as a campaign for good beer - better beer than most beer that was being sold; better beer than the beer that most people were drinking most of the time. There's no getting around that: any campaign to raise standards has to start from the position that the current standard - the standard that most people are content with - isn't good enough.

    That's not snobbery. What is snobbery is saying that you want to drink better beer than what most people drink because it's what most people drink - but nobody's said that, despite your suggesting that they might like to.

    If, on the other hand, the party you're at has been fully catered by a friend of yours, who knows you like beer, and the friend has chosen the beer he likes, and the friend is going to know what you drink (although this is nothing much like any party I've ever been to; it's more like the scenario of "being bought a beer by a friend") - in those conditions, obviously you drink the sodding beer, the same as you would if he said "I think you'll like this - it's called a Snakebite and Black".

  40. Kristy

    my hunch is people in your poll are choosing to drink something other than beer not on taste but because they don't want to be seen to be drinking something mainstream.

    40 comments later, have you got any evidence to support this hunch? Really, I don't give a monkey's about who sees me drinking what, or about who owns the brewery or what their advertising budget is or what supermarkets they supply. I don't drink Carling because I've tried it before and I don't like it.

  41. There's also the minor danger of sending your friend the wrong signals about what you like.

    "Another Snakebite and Black? Oh, you shouldn't have!"

  42. Over many years of reading CAMRA newsletter, I've rarely noted anyone selecting John Smiths, even though it remains a perfectly good cask beer supported by high turover in many parts of Yorkshire (RIP Magnet).

    Given the choice, many CAMRA members seem to choose the micro from the other side of the country over the quality drinking beer from the large independent brewer. S&SM branch notable exception !


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