Thursday, 18 September 2008

A brief, CAMRA-ish aside

PhD-completion stress has caused a bit of a loss of momentum on here recently, but I am currently trying to conceive of some more focussed articles to put up on here. I'm currently writing a piece about Ian Rankin which keeps stalling.

Anyway, I thought I'd do one of the customary 'hell in a handcart' articles. Now, I find real ale marketing quite embarassing usually. Problematically for someone who tends to prefer a pint of Frigging in the Rigging or Bishop's Finger over Carling or Strongbow, my tolerance for zany product names cooked-up by the marketing staff at independent breweries is not enormously high. When I used to work at a bar, we once did a weekend of real ale and folk dancing where the 'catch-up' strong beer was Granny Wouldn't Like It from Attleborough's almost unsurpassable Wolf Brewery. Now, the first time some Monty Python-quoting Environmental Sciences student asks you for a pint of that it's quite funny. When the seven hundredth Red Dwarf teeshirt-wearing, 'I'm mad, me!' individual does the same, however, it isn't quite so endearing (you know, it's all a bit 'aren't I naughty, ordering the marginally stronger beer with the ever-so-slightly risque name'). I usually preface my own bar orders of said products with a look that says 'if I were to take relish in asking for this drink, I'd be a wanker, and I'm not altogether cool with the fact that I'm buying a product whose marketers are intentionally trying to make me look like a wanker.' Then the barstaff look at me and know that I'm just a regular guy, a non-scener who just happens to like drinking real ale and doesn't feel the need to get into the paraphenalia of Queen records.*

I really am that cool.

Anyway, I'm cavorting off topic. What I meant to say is that the Portman Group (who I think have nothing to do with Ipswich Town's ground or Miranda Raison's character on Spooks) have criticised the Orkney Brewery for marketing a rather strong ale with the name 'Skull Splitter'. Now, notwithstanding the fact that the logo is a cartoon viking that would be unlikely to incite violence in even the most impressionable of those dead-eyed feral teenagers Eden Lake has got the chattering classes, er, chattering about, precisely how many real ale drinkers do you know who frequently indulge in booze-related violence? In my experience, people who go on holidays which involve attempting to visit as many microbreweries (and, let's face it, non-league football grounds) in a week as possible are not the same as those who loon out onto the pavement at eleven thirty trying to kick seven bells out of all and sundry. In all honesty, they're probably making putatively 'witty' remarks at the exhausted bartenders who are trying to remove them from their beery comfort zone, but violence doesn't tend to enter the equation.

Oh, shit. I sound like Jeremy Clarkson. Can I add a qualificatory note about my heartfelt belief in integrated mass transit and my enthusiasm for speed camera/ traffic management schemes? Hopefully that makes it all a little better.

* But maybe I do fulfill the criteria: non-league football; long walks; dilletantish inquisitiveness about archaeology and history. Hold on, this is turning into one of my famous 'Simon from Teachers' male anxiety attacks.

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