This has been er, brewing, for a while.
Firstly I must say that I genuinely love beer, and I’m very happy that we’ve finally embraced the fact it isn’t all about the likes of Stella, Carling or worst of all, Heineken. No, Peroni. That tastes like BO. There are some fantastic beers out there, made with love and care; from light, citrussy pale ales to stormy, thick, chocolate hinted stouts. I love many of them, truly, but also, there are problems. Big problems.
What is it, exactly, that brewers seem to be doing now, making their beers hoppier and hoppier and goddamit, even hoppier? It’s just not pleasant. Okay, so we want to taste the hops, that’s the point and that’s the beauty of this ‘beer revolution’ as I’ve heard it called but seriously, know when to stop. The super hoppy beers have no subtleties of flavour, no complexity left, but most importantly, they’re just not nice to drink. They’re too bitter. They’re unbalanced. They lack skill in the making. It makes me angry. I’d almost rather have a pint of Stella. Almost.
And the craft beer pubs! Holy shit. This is where my spleen really starts pumping out its juices. Bitter, angry juices like the beers many of them serve. These pubs should be wonderful havens, oases in the world of dirty lines, dirtier glass washers and fruit machines blinking in the background. Instead, some tool has started the trend of making them the most impossibly uncomfortable places to have a drink. Let’s start with the seating. The Craft Beer Co. in Brixton sports a fine example here – what were they thinking? Instead of seats that actually encourage a person to get comfortable, enjoy their drink and – god forbid – actually want to STAY in the pub, they have decided to make them look like instruments of torture and – surprise – they feel like them too. The seats are hard little stools, at silly heights, with er, bike pedals to rest your feet on. I’ve always wanted to feel like I’m on a bike while I’m having a quiet pint. No really. And just before you start thinking it might actually be fun to have a little pedal while you sup, you can forget it, because THEY DON’T EVEN GO ROUND. You’ll just have to lean on the cold metal table instead, the one with a big old crank on the side which lets you adjust the height in between knocking your knees against it, arse slowly going numb.
Annoyingly I couldn’t find a pic of the bike pedal thingies, they’re downstairs.
Then there’s the acoustics. A total lack of soft furnishings is the problem. I expect the designers think this makes the pub look cool, because we need to make drinking beer cool, right? It’s not just for beardy CAMRA members; old timers with old attitudes. Well here’s the wake up call, people – beer already IS fucking cool. Get over it! Stop trying so hard! Make a pub we can sit in and actually hear the people we are trying to socialise with! The upstairs area in Craft is practically unusable once it has more than 5 people in it. Their perfectly normal levels of chatter are just a cacophony; a wall of sound flying up around the filament bulbs hanging in cages.
This is not a gender issue, either, so don’t even bother going down that road. I know as many women as men who enjoy good beer and I see as many in craft beer pubs. I hear as many men complaining about these ridiculous trends.
The bottom line is, just let us all enjoy (most of) the drinks that people have (mostly) lovingly made. There’s no need to keep so many on, either. How will I believe those beers are kept and served properly when there’s so many of them? A small, well chosen, changing selection is more appealing, at least to me, anyway. Maybe I’m alone on that point.
What does everyone else think? Am I being cranky? I know one thing for sure, the person who designs a comfortable, useable, actually pleasant craft beer pub is going to be raking it in. Speaking of which, The Rake in Borough Market is fine, although I can’t be arsed going there because it can only fit about 5 people. I really don’t want to single out Craft here either, they have some great beers, and I do drink there, but they provide a very good example of what I’m talking about. The only place I’ve found that’s been in any way nice has been in Manchester. Come on London, pull your socks up.