Book Review: Pub Games Of England by Timothy Finn

pubgamesThis finally came from after ordering it not long after mid-February, right around when I decided to create The Pub Game Project. The roaring silence that followed was lesson enough that this book was very much needed in the library.

And what a treat it is. Now I can trick the children and push the weaker willed of the family, inducing them into playing Knur and Spell, Aunt Sally, Daddlums, Lawn Billiards and Dwyle Flunking. Rules, diagrams, hints to play and photos of the games in action. First published in 1975. Excellent.

Paul Tells A Tale Of Two Beer Festivals


Bury St Edmunds Corn Exchange, home of the East Anglian Beer Festival
The East Anglian Beer Festival takes place in my hometown of Bury St Edmunds at the end of April. As it is on my doorstep, so to speak, it’s a must visit event. I normally pay a visit everyday, but this year was different. This year I’d planned to visit two different beer festivals in one week. Not only that but also several hundred miles apart to boot.

The East Anglian Beer Festival is what it says on the label “celebrating the best of East Anglian ale”. Now, apart from a singular trip to the Great British Beer Festival in London a couple of years ago, my beer festival attendances have been restricted purely to East Anglia. As a consequence I get to try a lot of local ales. Because of this there were few new beers to get me exited at this year’s EA festival. Not a problem as I had only a brief time to sample. Here’s what I sampled:

  • Maldon Gold from Mighty Oak – 3.8% – A bitter golden ale floral and lemon undertones. Hoppy with strong hints of sweet vanilla.
  • JHB (Jeffrey Hudson Bitter) from Oakham Ales – 3.8% – The colour of donkey wee, this ale tastes better than it looks. Light in colour, subtle in taste, hints of PLJ or lemon marmalade.
  • Windswept from Oulton Ales – 4.5% – Sweet dark copper coloured ale. Mass of flavours including honey and prunes. A most excellent ale.
  • Bitter from Winter’s Brewery – 3.8% – A bland could-have-been-anything sort of ale. A very boring beer. A distinct absence of the “advertised” fuggles taste. You can’t win them all!

The next day we set of for Bonnie Scotland. We planned to break our journey by a stop off in the Lake District. Keswick was our town of choice. I had hoped that staying at what was a traditional coaching inn would have given me the opportunity to at least have a decent ale-a-errific nightcap in pleasant surroundings. Not so. Three hand pumps but no real ale on. I was told that there might be some on later, “when it cleared.” What concerned me was how the bar steward tried to persuade me to have John Smith’s Creamflow, a disgustingly bland nitro-keg beer that I’d cross the street to avoid. When I said most certainly not, he looked totally bemused and went on to say that it was the most popular selling bitter in the country and that it’s always consistent. Well, in terms of quality I suspect suppositories are also consistent but I would recommend them as a substitute real ale either! He then went on to dis real ale because it sometimes went sour. They presumably don’t have a fast enough turnover, but with a salesman like that I’m not surprised. The man clearly knows fuck all about real ale.

paulstrip1In a situation like this there’s only one thing to do. Reach for one’s trusty Good Beer Guide. Bingo! A recommendation: The Dog and Gun also in Keswick. The Dog and Gun is a proper pub, four real ales, flag stones on the floor, a local’s pub with bags of atmosphere. Plus it serves good honest well cooked pub grub. I sampled two of their fine ales:

  • Yates Bitter – 3.8% – Distinct bitterness, a really good session beer, with some maltiness and no hint of hops.
  • Taste Ascent – Keswick Brewery – 4% – Very bitter golden ale. Too bitter for my taste. Hints of marmalade, again bereft of hoppiness.

paulstrip2…Hullo Jimmy. I’d like to introduce Jimmy…

The following day it was back on the road to the land of my Nana, north of the border. It was my first trip to a Scottish beer festival, nay my first visit to any beer festival north of The Wash and an interesting affair. Nosier, most certainly, and with a different demographic to the English beer festivals that I’m used to attending. East Anglian folk tend to be quite reserved, so the loudness and the extrovert nature of the locals I found needed a bit of adjusting to.

paulstrip4My raison d’etre for attending beer festivals is to try something new, as I intimated a little difficult in my hometown, but I suppose for those less dedicated or less travelled, that only attend their local beer festival, local beers are probably quite a novelty. Local beers for local people!

This was obviously the case at the 20th Paisley Beer Festival. The festival was spread over two rooms, one for Scottish ales and the other housing “foreign” ales – predominantly English ales. It came as no surprise to find that the hall containing the Scottish selection was more densely populated than the “foreign” hall.

The Caledonian Brewery Pipe band was at the festival, enjoying a few bevies and playing for the punters. There seemed to be an even greater mood of national pride at the time. It was just before the Scottish election so, as a consequence, the pipe band went down a storm with great cheers going up after each number. I was under the impression that this sort of thing was for tourists only, but clearly the local crowd loved it. Even more astonishing to a sasenach was the average age of the festival goers. It was a great deal lower than that of the festivals I normally attend in England. In my locale, youngsters would never be as enthusiastic about something as folksy as a pipe band. Not only was the average age a lot lower than in England, where beer festivals tend to be the domain of middle-aged bearded blokes in jumpers, but a large proportion of them were women. Young women in their late teens or early twenties, not wearing their vests and balancing precariously on frighteningly high heeled shoes, and seemingly able to out drink many of the men.

paulstrip3Here’s what I tasted at the festival:

  • Arran Blonde from Arran Brewery – 5% – A pale golden beer with that distinct hamster bedding flavour we’ve all come to know and love.
  • Piper’s Gold from Fyne Ales – 3.8% – A dark golden ale with an initial refreshing bitter taste and not a single hint of hops to be had.
  • Avalanche from Fyne Ales – 4.5% – A very pale and hoppy seasonal beer, perfect for supping on the banks of Loch Fyne.
  • Riptide from Brew Dog – 8% – A malty, smoky chocolately ale with traces of liquorice. Warming like liquid coal or a sharp intake of breath by someone with a 40 a day Capstan Full Strength habit.
  • Lia Fail from Inveralmond – 4.7% – A dark beer with a well-balanced sweetness, malt and slight chocolate tones.
  • Red Cuillin from Isle Of Skye Brewing Co – 4.2% – Smooth, well rounded dark copper malty ale. Also with burnt butterscotch musings.
  • Kelburn Red Smiddy from Kelburn Brewing – 4.1% – A red ale, complex in character with a dry bitterness and a citrus finish.
  • Cuil Hill from Sulwath Brewers – 3.6% – A light copper ale with bursts of malt and hints of honey.
  • Stairway To Heaven from Triple fff Brewery – 4.6% – The only “foreign” beer that I tried and I’m ashamed to say the best that I tasted at the festival. A pale brown ale with lusciously ripe mouthfuls of raspberries and blackberries. All that glitters is gold!

A great festival with a friendly and lively crowd. A wonderful trip.

PGP 1.0: The Pub Games Project

northants_skittlesWhat – another theme? As if having contests and starting to think about beer and music is not enough, I have been obsessing a bit (inspired no doubt by Stonch) about old games a bit lately at my other blog, the general purpose Gen X at 40, the web site that spawned this here place.

Plenty of old games relate to pubs – both inside games like darts and lawn games like bowls. But beyond that, they tie beer to gathering and do so in an utterly unproductive but pleasing way. I am a bit fan of unproductive skills and have started a gathering of local beer fans under the name of the Kingston Society for Playing Catch with the aim of exploring all aspects of idleness at a very slow pace over the remaining decades of my life. I think I am going to suggest that pub games need to be added to the mandate of the KSPC.

What do I mean by pub games? There are the obvious ones. My life has always included doinggames as much or more than board or card games. I grew up in a Minister’s house where darts was played after supper – leaving one manse front door in a very bad state as I recall. And, along with good helpings of shuffleboard, undergrad early ’80s two-player table top video games morphed into law school snooker as staples during my free time in the vicinity of a beer or two. But before or as these popular games developed in the Victorian era (or were created in the early digital one) there were other more localized games skill being played by a few dedicated fans like bar billiards, ball and trap, the incredibly fun looking London skittles or the smaller scale variation known as hood skittles or Northamptonshire skittles shown being played above. Plenty of different games and their rules are to be found at the excellent Masters Traditional Games. More rules and history can be found through the pub games page at wikiality as well as the Online Guide to Traditional Games.

Realizing that these are mainly English games, I hope to explore a bit about the other games played by folk having a beer in other nations through this series. If you know of any you love please join in.

Paul Goes to Two Cambridge Pubs

[Alan here. Before we get into this post, the third of Paul’s series this week, I just have to point out my gratitude for these contributions as well as all those of all those who get to post here – Knut, Gary, Donavan and the rest. And I have to say that I had a hard time cropping Paul’s pictures, as I often do, as there were so many wonderful aspects to what he caught. Thanks again, guys.]


Cambridge is one of my favourite cities, and my partner Ginny and I were lucky enough to spend a couple of days there recently. Amongst all the activities that we had scheduled to cover there were two pubs I wanted to visit; they were The Eagle, which I had been to before on a couple of occasions and The Live And Let Live, a pub I had heard a lot about but had never crossed the threshold.


We arrived in Cambridge by train. The best mode of transport to use when travelling to this fair city as it’s not a particularly car friendly place. The Live And Let Live is but a short distance from the railway station, so of course it was our first port of call. It was a Sunday lunchtime. A very pleasant man behind the bar greeted us. As there were half a dozen different real ales on offer we hummed and hared for a while over what to have. In the end I plumped for a pint of Rupert’s Ruin from Springhead Brewery while Ginny went for the Nethergate Stinger.

The Rupert’s Ruin was a dark copper coloured sweetish malty bitter while the Stinger had a hint of sweetness but with a very bitter after taste that was very tamarind in style. We ordered food, Ginny went for a fishy dish while I decided that I would have Quorn bangers and mash. Quorn in the UK is a brand of ‘vegetarian meat’ – please forgive the tautology. I am no longer a vegetarian but I really fancied it. To my surprise a little while after we’d ordered the meal the chef came to the bar and asked if I wanted the normal gravy or did I want him to make some vegetarian especially. “What’s the normal gravy ?” I asked, “ Well it’s an onion gravy but it has red wine in it, which isn’t necessarily vegetarian”, he paused for a split second, “but I notice you’re drinking real ale so I guess it doesn’t matter”. I agreed. He went back to his cooking and I sat there impressed at the attention to detail. When the food arrived it was jolly good and tasty.


To wash down our lunch I had a pint of Banks & Taylor Dragon Mild, a stout-like ale without the bitterness, smooth, almost creamy. Ginny had an Everards Tiger, a golden ale of the Tanglefoot ilk, but this one had usual apple undertones. With a decor that reminds you of the inside of a wooden packing case this unassuming back street hostelry is a fantastic free house. Sunday night was spent at a John Martyn concert, singer, songwriter and guitarist extraordinaire! Followed by a ‘bag of chips’ supper from a burger van on Cambridge market, most welcome on a cold winter’s evening. Then off to bed at the Crowne Plaza. Monday lunchtime saw us heading off to the Eagle. The Eagle is an old coaching inn that dates back to the 17th century. The interior (above, right) is an interesting mix of stone floors, wood paneling, mullioned windows and wall paintings. Personally I think it has an ‘Arts and Crafts’ feel, but what do I know about history ? It’s a Greene King pub, but don’t hold that against it. I had a pint of Old Jerusalem a new beer to their stable and named after the Nottingham pub that I wrote about recently. A pleasant ale in the Old Speckled Hen mold. Greene King no longer make the most exciting range of ales but a well kept pint of their beer is still a pleasure.

Paul Goes To The Laxfield Low House, Suffolk, England

[This post was written by Paul of Bury-St.E.]


I’ve never been to a pub quite like the Laxfield Low House. First up that’s not its proper name, but it’s what the locals call it. Its official name is The Kings Head, an Adnams pub now, but it is the stuff of legend. I’ve known of it for a number of years but have never managed to get to it before now. Set in the rolling Suffolk countryside well into Adnams territory, the small hamlet of Laxfield is a picturesque gem, so it’s only fitting that it should have such a wonderful pub, and wonderful it most certainly is. The Low House is well off the beaten track.


Largely unchanged since Victorian times this is like no other pub I’ve been in. There is no bar as such, you wander into the tap room, at busy periods you queue, which comes naturally to us British, and you order the beer of your choice from a selection of five or six, straight from the barrel. Delicious ! The taproom is one of those sort of backrooms that you just know stays at a fairly constant temperature all year round. Perfect for the keeping of beer. Whilst I was waiting to be served, the gentleman in front of me, blessed with a South African accent, ordered a pint of Carling. To the uninitiated this is factory Euro-fizz lager, also brewed in the rainbow republic. I wondered what drove people to commit such acts of gross stupidity, but then I suppose it’s just asking for trouble selling the stuff in the first place.


It’s a pub of nooks and crannies; a number small rooms and snugs plus a restaurant area. A lovely fire was blazing on the Sunday we called in. Food was excellent. Dublin prawns for starters followed by a honey and mustard grilled ham chop. Unfortunately it’s a pub you have to drive to, and I was driving, so I only had the one pint. Adnams Explorer, a golden ale of some note. Not very ‘winter’, but it slipped down well all the same. There was a welcoming fire blazing in the grate of one of the larger rooms, an interesting mix of locals and tourists lingered, sipping well-kept ale. A welcoming air flows around the whole establishment. It’s appeared to be a pub for milling about, chatting and just plain soaking up the atmosphere. The walls are a busy mix of pictures, posters and rural artefacts whilst the floors are on several slightly different levels. There were a few rural artefacts sitting in chairs, chairs I suspect they occupy on a regular basis. One local character was hawking cuts of meat in the main saloon. Meat that was on display from the open tailgate of his estate car, conveniently situated opposite the front door. All an interesting slice of bucolic Suffolk life.

I want to go back soon. Better still I want to live in Laxfield.

Quick Note: 2006 Vintage Ale, Fuller’s, London, England

This one is being peddled at the LCBO right now for $6.50 for 500 ml. Nice packaging. This is bottle #65180. I have another 2006 hidden away with a 2005. Why? Because I am a nerd.

Tan frothy head over caramel ale. On the nose, just malt sweetness. Rich. Plenty of grain texture all in all and an exceptionally well hidden 8.5% with sweet malt and twiggy and slightly astringent hops on the wash around the chops. There must be more – start again. The nose is more than just sweet. There is a hay loft sort of clean organic smell. Tweedy. What about the taste? Fruit? Sultana and apple perhaps. Maybe one of those green fig varieties as well. Some smokiness as well but gentle. Black tea at the finish with creme caramel.

Some day I will do a side by side. Meantime, pick a few of these up even at this price. Thinking ale. BAers say yes.

Village Games

I was sent off on a YouTube adventure by a kind reader of note who last evening sent me emails with videos of cheese rolling attached like this one and all these.

That got me thinking that maybe there were videos of the ancient pre-football village games that happen at holidays. And there were. Like Royal Shrovetide Football you can watch here. Kind of weirdly but appropriately put to music. I think this is that game explained on wikipedia. Here is another – this from Orkney. Again set to music. Here is a web page on that game. Nothing on Winchester College Football on YouTube yet.

As we start moving from the recreational and civic holidays of the warm half of the year to the traditional holidays of the darker half, I am reminded that village and community are interesting things which are not like suburbs, workplaces or shopping malls or even families. The internet will only create real community when this sort of game starts up, including people you do not necessarily like doing things together you do not necessarily understand because you must. Maybe it has and maybe it hasn’t. Maybe that is what the Kingston Society for Playing Catch is to be. I will only know if anyone gets the hat and even then likely not.

Pete Brown: The Interview

pbboI like my non-job here at A Good Beer Blog. One thing I get to do – other than never have a second beer of the same type – is meet interesting people involved with beer over the internet. Consider this exchange about beer and language between me and beer book author Pete Brown:

Pete: Hi Alan, What’s a dink?
Alan: Hmm. A dink? A dink is a minor league jerk. A child’s word for penis. Actually it has a beer angle as in the Nova Scotia of my youth a six-pack was called “a dink pack” now that I think if it. A dink is a bore who is also a newbie.

Wow. Gripping linguistic drama. More to the point was the more thoughful exchange Pete provided to questions put to him by both me and guest writer Knut of Norway. Pete (no relation to the lead singer of the illustrated Pete Brown and his Battered Ornaments) has recently published a great book on his global beer travels called Three Sheets to the Wind and Knut and I thought it would be great if we could have a few questions answered in a three-way North Atlantic quiz as part of our review of his new work. You will recall I reviewed his last beer book Man Walks Into A Pub back in July 2003. In that book Pete considered some of the trends and brewing history of Britain. In this year’s book, he takes a stab at getting a hold of the global beer culture. I will review the book separately in a few days but for now, here is the interview.


Alan: You speak quite strongly about CAMRA. We do not have an equivalent in Canada though there are outposts. In “Three Sheets to the Wind” you visit Portland Oregon and experienced an expression of the North American real ale culture and appeared to love it. How would you compare the two?

Pete: I was so surprised by the US approach to craft beer – they’re really passionate about it, and the key thing is they want you to be passionate about it as well. The thing I always say about Portland is that if I was talking to a brewer about his beers and how much I liked them, he’d tell me six other beers from “competitive” brewers that I should also try. When I go to CAMRA events, I always get the sense that if you don’t already know what you like, there’s very little effort made to draw you in and help you. This is starting to change now, but there’s still an attitude about “I know more than you.” In North America, it’s more like, “I want you to know as much as me.”

Knut: Do you think CAMRA still could be used as a platform to fight for good beer, or have they painted themselves too much into a corner? Could an alternative be to start anew, based on a support for new and coming micro breweries instead of focusing on the techicalities of brewing?

Pete: Of the two alternatives, the one I’d like to see is that CAMRA reform themselves. They’ve got a terrible image problem, but they have so much stock in terms of public awareness, I still think they’re very powerful. As I’ve hung around the beer scene longer I’ve got to know more people. There are a great many executives within CAMRA who have exactly the right ideas, who know they need to reform in order to move forward – and they’re really nice people. But policy is dictated by committee and volunteers, and a lot of these guys are just professional activists – it’s not enough to be for something, you also have to be against something. I believe a lot of these guys couldn’t give a shit about getting more people into great-tasting beer; they simply enjoy the process of arguing about technicalities and being pissed off for a living. I’d like to believe the more sensible factions will eventually win the day, and we’re seeing some signs of CAMRA taking steps into the twenty first century, but there’s still a long way to go. The biggest problem is that CAMRA hardliners interpret any criticism of CAMRA as a criticism of cask ale, which is not only wrong, it’s breathtakingly arrogant, and kind of stops any really useful constructive debate from emerging.

Knut: After travelling the world, where do you see the best potential for beer tourism? I know Ireland has managed to do this based on one beer (!), and you have the mass hordes descending on Munich. But how about bicycling holidays in Bamberg and Denmark, micro breweries offering bed, breakfast and rare cask ales etc?

Pete: I’d love to see that in loads of countries. What I’m discovering now is that you can stick a pin in a map, and there’ll be interesting, often new, breweries not very far away. But I think in terms of holidays, you’d start with Belgium. I’ve been back a few times now since I went there for Three Sheets, and you can go from village to village, each with its own brewery, trying amazing beers, and it’s beautiful country – at least when the sun is shining!

Knut: Carlsberg is responding to the challenge of craft beers by a) trying to control the Danish import market and b) by setting up a micro of their own, putting a lot of prestige in it and linking it up with their brewery tours. Is this the way to go for the other big European brewers?

Pete: I think so. Big corporations in any market tend to play to the lowest common denominator with consumer tastes. You forget that to get a job as a brewer in a really big brewery, you have to be at the top of your game – the people who brew Budweiser are some of the best brewers in the world! What Carlsberg have done is give their brewers a bit of creative freedom and – surprise surprise – people can’t get enough of it. In the US, Anheuser Busch are responding to the growth of craft beers by launching some of their own, and much as I hate to say it, some of them are very good – they would be. The only thing that worries me is when big corporations react by simply trying to strangle interesting small breweries, denying them distribution and so on. This is very idealistic of me, but I wish brewers would simply let their beer do the talking – produce the best beer you can and try to sell more than your smaller competitors without resorting to dirty, underhand tactics.

Alan: I have been trying to figure out how you would approach Canadian beer culture. For me, so much about beer is centered on the kitchen party, the garage fridge or the cottage/camp as opposed to the pub or bar. In his book “Travels with Barley”, Ken Wells notes that bar bought beer in the US has gone from 75% of all sales to 25% over the last 20 years. This is a startling figure. Do you see this as a global trend? Do you also see that these sorts of home-based drinking is something that you ought to include if you extend you study to a “Son of Three Sheets to the Wind”?

Pete: That would be a great idea! An excuse to go and do the whole trip again. What we see now across the world is a consistent set of trends in markets that are “mature”, where beer has been around for ages, and a different pattern in new and emerging markets, such as Asia and Russia. In mature markets there’s a general thing about “staying in is the new going out” – we spend a greater portion of our money on interior design, big screen TVs, Playstations, cookbooks and so on – we invite friends over more than arranging to meet up with them. I think the pub or bar will always be the gold standard – you’re getting a whole experience, not just a beer. But we will all increasingly be doing more of our drinking at home.

Alan: Your references to cultures with respect for or even celebration of the three-beer buzz is really interesting to me. How, though, can an industry promote the idea that what I might call “getting a jag on” rather than “getting loaded” is the point of beer and one that we should all embrace? Doesn’t english-speaking puritanism somewhat snooker that opportunity leaving beer prone to being effectively represented as something you take to enter a fantasty land of TV advertised sports, pals and bikini-clad teens?

Pete: The reason people drink beer is to help social interaction – and you’re not allowed to say this, or even hint at it, in any promotion or advertising for beer – it’s one category where you are not allowed to tell the truth about the main product benefit. But I’ve done quite a bit of work in the UK on this subject. Many brewers now are pushing these “please drink responsibly” messages, which is fine, but a lot of people are drinking precisely because they want a break from behaving responsibly all the time. We need people to show that moderate drinking can actually be fun, rather than simply telling people not to drink as much. There’s a new campaign in the UK by Amstel that does a half-decent job of this. It ties the beer back to the laid-back attitude of the Dutch, and has lines like “drinking is just something we do between talking”, and “why rush your beer? The bar is open all night.” I think there’s a lot more that could be done along these lines. I’d like to see campaigns focusing on sentiments like “surely the best nights out are the ones you can remember.”

Again with the “Wow!” It is amazing no one is pouring big advertising money down upon my head with quality stuff like this. We remain open to offers.A big thanks to Pete for both his book and his time as well as to Knut who is one of the guys who make this beer writing stuff fun. As I said, a proper review of Three Sheets to the Wind will be up in a few days.

Quick Note: Shepherd Neame Goldings, England

We don’t get enough Shepherd Neame around here. Just Bishop’s Finger in the LCBO and I thought I had heard rumours that even its days might be numbered. And just like Spitfire was a seasonal release from the government store in 2004, so too this summer we had their Goldings Summer Hop Ale.

I have to re-adjust just my scale for English pale ale. Having much more access to the heavier hoppier US versions you have to gear back and think of these not as light ales but delicate ones. And delicate this one is indeed. Pure white pin-point foam and lace over amber ale. The aroma is floral and reserved. Not staid, though – more freesia than marigold. In the mouth there is a gush of fresh water, pale ale bread crust graininess, plenty of stone fruit – apple, pear, peach notes – and a nice lemony citric hop bite. A gentler pale but worthy.

The 17 BA reviewers are 12% unhappy. Restless. Some say too watery. Some say not enough hop. Even at 4.7%, I say this is a decent English best bitter and that is something you don’t get your hands on too much anymore in the international drive for big. I like.


Cyclops – Perhaps The Worst Idea Ever

Describing taste in words is funny business but making the effort is worthwhile as it provides you with a mechanism through which you can record your experiences with food and drink, and especially craft foods like real ale. We each take in the esters, phenols and other organic elements and recreate their interconnection in our own minds as we sip, sometimes discovering what the brewer intended and sometimes finding out new nuances never expected. Then you use your words to frame your experience. Do it often enough and you develop your own descriptors that make sense for your experience.

So it is inordinately shocking, then, to learn about what may be the worst idea in the craft beer movement I have ever heard of – a standardized system of beer description not unironically called Cyclops:

Cyclops, the new scheme launched today at the Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court in London, has the backing of 14 real ale breweries. Under the scheme, the brewers have agreed to follow a standardised template on all promotional material, describing the style, smell, look and taste of their beers. Bitterness and sweetness – the two main measures used to describe real ale’s characteristics – will also now be scored from one to five.

Cyclops follows a pilot scheme introduced by Leicester brewer Everards, which simplified the language used to describe real ales on promotional materials so customers knew exactly what to expect. A Campaign for Real Ale spokesman said: “Real ale is an incredibly complex drink with an enormous range of styles and tastes. Cyclops will demystify real ale so drinkers will know what a beer will look, smell and taste like before they part with their cash at the bar.”

This is tragic. And it is stunning that CAMRA supports such a thing. It is important at this moment in time that the most famous Cyclops, Homer’s Polyphemus, was blinded for life by drinking strong wine and ate people. This is hardly the making of a good brand. But even when he had one good eye he saw things…like he was born with one eye in the middle of his forehead – as in without particularly strong ability to see things from other perspectives. Plus, as man eating giant shepherds who get tricked a lot, they sort of fit the images of a rural rube caricature, kinda like in the satirical play by Euripides

And that is sort of what the program takes the craft beer lover for in presuming to tell you how to taste – it takes you for an ignorant oaf. It will create one recommended way to look at things and a snobby attitude to those who find their own way. Reject such mecho-branding systematic standards that will homogenize response patterns and trust yourself. If you think a beer tastes like the armpit Polyphemus after a long night in the cave (if you know what I mean) while the brewer tells you something like “it is a 5 (bitter), 3 (waterhardness), 3 (maltiness), 2 (mouthfeel) and 4 (overall) pale ale” then you just trust yourself and know that is likely tastes like that armpit.

¹…which would have been funnier if, instead of saying he was called “No man” thus leading to lots of punning hi-jinks that confused the big old dope, Odysseus had actually called himself “Norman” which would have led to a lot less confusion and likely the eating of Odysseus in the first few scenes thus saving thousands of undergrads the misery of figuring the whole thing out.