My local pub was boarded up. The landlord had shot someone. I needed to find a new oasis and surrogate family. A short walk took me to a boozer I hadn’t been in for years. I snook in the side door to the tap room, it was early lunch and I was alone, my only immediate company a huge chalk board with a list of beers. Oh Christ, real ale I thought, I am going to have to make an un-informed choice between a beverage of warm mouldy hops or flat burnt treacle.
I sat down with a pint of The Rectors Shag Pile and contemplated the phenomenon. It seemed that these days there was no escape from the stuff. Even women were drinking it! And not just hairy biker’s wife’s but laddettes too. Ok, the price was reasonable bloody good in fact but what was the appeal? Were we just been sold a notion of authenticity? Like Pizza Hut expecting us to believe that its “pizza pies” were first baked by a fat chap called Luigi in1620 for the hungry Mayflower passengers.
My first encounter with Real Ale was as a student. It was a freezing December in the Brighton Lanes. The landlord was just attaching a new clip to a pump “Winter Warmer”...perfect. After about an hour drinking pints at our usual pace we noticed the conversation losing its thread. My friend said “my arse is stuck to the chair” my other mate muttered something about been “unable to move”. Our six eyeballs managed to follow the landlord as he added the new beer to the blackboard. Winter Warmer 9.5% “oh God” I stammered “we’ve all just drunk the equivalent of 3 pints of Blue Nun”