August 14th, 2010
I was in Canary Wharf recently buying a round of drinks that consisted of Stella, Kronenberg, Asahi and Peroni. It was pretty late so all the branded glasses were out & about and the drinks were served in standard pint glasses. It was a genuinely pivotal moment in my beery life to watch the lads try and work out whose pint was whose. They all looked the same, they had the same colour, the same carbonation, the same temperature and though each person held a strong allegiance to their brand of choice, none of them could tell the difference between the beers I brought back.
This led me to think about how much we value everything that’s ‘not in the glass’ when it comes to choosing beer. Having blind-tasted for the first time at the SIBA SE awards recently, I put through two beers that I regularly drink without having any idea that I’d tasted them before (Dogbolter & Incubus, by the way). There can be little doubt that the environment, glassware, price and branding count for a lot when it comes to enjoying a beer – which must be why the Belgians are so keen on fancy glasses to ‘enhance’ the quality of their brews. It’s even harder when you’re dealing with cask & keg as the customer’s ability to choose what they want is reduced to a pump clip’s worth of information & branding served in a generic pint glass. I know that beer should be enjoyed for what’s been brewed but sometimes it’s genuinely hard to concentrate solely on the beer and not on everything that surrounds it.