Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Of Gobby Hobbits

I celebrated quite a bit on Saturday. Well, it isn't every weekend that Liverpool beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, especially not when they do it 4-1. The powers that be are convinced that playing big games at 12.45 GMT on a Saturday somehow negates the effects of drinking before the game, but ignore the effects of the game on drinking afterwards. As I say, we celebrated quite a bit.

Just round the corner from Zlata, is Pivovarský dům - so it was only natural to continue our celebrations there - well it was really my excuse to make sure that I got at least a little bit of decent beer before things got out of hand. Thankfully they still have their very nice stout on the one and only hand pump, and they also have a special Märzen at the moment, which was rather nice as well.

At some point in the conversation, CAMRA came up - don't ask me why because I can't remember - and I told my friends what the MD of Marston's had said about certain sections of CAMRA (personally I think Knackered Old Cripplecock would be a grand name for a beer, but no doubt the Portman Group would object). At the mention of CAMRA, one of the guys on the next table looked over and we got chatting - he is a member of the West Middlesex branch, from the same part of the world as my dad, so we had a good chin wag, and being a good pub evangelist I marked a few places on his map.

I happened to mention that I was rather jealous of being able to wander into a pub and have a pint of London Pride whenever you feel like it, which led to a discussion about brands being so ubiquitous that they lose some of their appeal regardless of how good they are. The Czech Republic is a perfect example of this, especially the way we bash the big brewers such as Pilsner Urquell and Staropramen. Yes it is true that PU is not a patch on what it once was, and yes Staropramen is an abomination as it is made with corn syrup, but which would I rather drink - Staropramen or Foster's? Pilsner Urquell or Carling?

This then got me to thinking about how people equate smaller brewers with good beer, again back to the "gobby hobbits" that so irked the Marston's MD - big brewers do make good beer, take Budvar or Fuller's for example, and small brewers do make bad beer, Pražský most na Valšů springs immediately to mind. So although I maintain that the likes of Pilsner Urquell and Staropramen are not beers I will drink regularly, I am happy to admit, we are very lucky to have the standard set so much higher than many other markets.


  1. Sadly some of the names you mention are unknown to me. I might have to rectify that someday.

    I am very interested in the ubiquitous beers loosing appeal for some, despite there being a high quality to them. We used to sell high volumes of Jennings here but gradually found that as there became more Cumbrian micro breweries and once we started to make our own beer the demand dropped. I now find that the Micro Breweries that have been around a while sell less well than the newer ones.

    Perhaps I do too much to encourage Gobby Hobbits.

  2. Of the Jennings beers, I have only had Sneck Lifter - and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I wonder sometimes if there isn't an inverse snobbery with real ale drinkers, kind of a "well you're a big company now, so you must have sold out".

  3. What a glorious thrashing indeed!

  4. Yes, you're exactly right. Our first pint of Young's when we got back from Cornwall the other week tasted so sweet... familiarity breeds contempt, and all that.


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