Imagine the scene.
The wife has plans, you have finished everything you wanted to achieve with your day already and thus have a couple of hours spare. What could be nicer than spending said couple of hours in the pub? More specifically the pub where you spend a large amount of your drinking time. Pulling up at the bar, because that's where you sit as a rule, you survey the beers being tapped that day. The list is overwhelmingly stuck in a single beer style. A style which has come to define the beer culture in the country where you find yourself.
You sigh. There are times when you just want something different, something with flavours other than those in pretty much every other beer. You sigh again, after all this is a pub where you not only spend an inordinate amount of time, but also has a reputation for having a broader selection of beer than anywhere else in your town. The barman notices your inability to make a decision and offers you a sample, sure enough the culture defining beer placed in front of you tastes exactly as you expect. Those hops, that malt, it all feels so predictable.
As well as a larger than normal selection of taps, the pub has an impressive stock of bottled beers lining the walls, so you have a stroll and again nothing is really speaking to your tastebuds. You return to your seat at the bar, the food you ordered has arrived - the food is never a problem, simple, tasty and good. It is times like these that you have a fall back option, a beer which isn't sexy, isn't trendy and isn't laden with craft beer kudos, but you know what you are getting.
Now, you would be forgiven for thinking that I am describing my drinking life back in Prague, and sure there were many a day when I would go to PK or similar and 5 of the 6 taps would be pale lager, with a weizen on the other. However, that scenario has played out in many a pub here in the States since I moved over, just with pale lager replaced by pale hoppy ale, whether of the India persuasion or otherwise. Usually, when this scenario happens, the beer I end up supping happily is Guinness - occasionally fuelled with a drop of barleywine chucked in the top.
When I first wrote this post, and showed it to Mrs V she commented that it was kind of depressing. I don't want to come across as a malcontent, but there are times when I go to a pub, whether here in Charlottesville, in Columbia or wherever we happen to be and the "choice" is really a case of pick a pale ale, any pale ale. Often the non pale ale choices are high octane barleywines or imperial stouts, which don't make for good drinking by the pint, a proper pint, when you have to pick the wife up at some point.
I guess then I am making a plea to pubs that have loads of taps, let's see a little less of the hoppy pale ale world and a bit more of the dark lagers, weizens, milds and Scottish ales of this world. Heck, how about ditching the Guinness altogether and getting Wrasslers XXXX on tap, or O'Hara's, or one of the excellent American made stouts, Sierra Nevada for example, or Starr Hill's Dark Starr?