Sunday, 8 November 2015

Loving the lout

In a recent blogpost, Tandleman described a trip round Lees Brewery, in which the tour guide said "Of course, you won't approve of lager." His response was “He seemed surprised when I advised him that I'm a huge fan of lager and of Lees Original and that I regularly drink lager home and abroad.” He goes on to state that “most of us certainly drink lager to some extent.” Now, I certainly do, but I think he may be underestimating the dislike of lager amongst CAMRA stalwarts. I can think of several who will never touch the stuff in the UK, and if they go on holiday to somewhere hot will report back that “the only beer available was crap”.

Apparently over 90% of all beer drunk in the world is pale lager, and it probably accounts for a considerably higher proportion of dull, bland, industrial beer. But that shouldn’t blind beer enthusiasts to the recognition that it is one of the world’s classic beer styles and, when done well, is up there amongst the greats. Possibly the existence of Fosters and Sol leads people to subsconsciously devalue Pilsner Urquell, Jever and Augustiner Helles. It’s a bit like downgrading Harveys Sussex Best because John Smith’s Extra Smooth is also a “bitter”.

So I created a poll on whether blog readers drank lager. There was actually quite a negative response, with 42% overall saying either “Very rarely” or “Never”. So the anti-lager view seems to be more prevalent than Tandleman believes. But, as he says, “Well made lager is an absolute delight and those that sniff at lager are missing out in a big way.” And I’ll drink a Helles or a Pilsner to that.


  1. I rather like the fact that some people of the CAMRA persuasion do not approve of lager. It adds to the pleasure.

    A pint of lager may be delight in beer form. The pinnacle of brewing, requiring more technical expertise than ale and delighting you in a way no ale can. But that is often not enough.

    It is like sex, it is better if you know somewhere, someone does not approve.

  2. I so rarely drink lager that I border on 'never', but I don't slag off the tastes of those who do. The people who do insult the beer preferences of others are, firstly, being bad mannered and, secondly, failing to understand that people drink beer for a variety of reasons. Some just want a pint they're familiar with to accompany conversation, play darts, or whatever, and they don't want to change. It's not something they think about, dwell upon, or tick off in a little book.

    Other actively seek out different beers all the time, and to them the beer is the focus. Most of us fall somewhere between these two extremes. The real ale Taliban fails to understand any of this.

  3. It's more of a quality issue for me - it's only recently we've seen the likes of quality lagers Camden Helles and Pilsner Urquell in UK pubs, and I'd certainly drink those if I thought ale quality was likely to be low.

  4. Shitty lager has a time and a place. Usually in foreign climes. And the more terrible the better. Any other drink is wrong.

    33 on a Vietnamese train. Balboa on a Panamanian beach. Red Horse Extra Strong to cope with Manila. And Bud light in the USA...

  5. Where I have a choice, I will avoid lager, but since virtually every bar now serves a cask or a bottled ale its very rarely an issue. I wondered if it was a snobbery or forced dislike of lager, but a recent holiday proved no, I really do not like the taste and consistency of industrial Lager. However I just get on with it rather than informing the group of my displeasure. Nothing worse than a moaner.

    In this country it's rare that I can't get ale. Even at the Velodrome in Stratford where I was expecting it to be Carlsburg or Carlsburg they had a delightful pale ale on. I was so distraught at Southampton Airport though once that they didn't even have bottles that I popped it on a customer comments form. Next flight 3 months later? Pride and Spitfire in the fridge!


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