Category Archives: Editorial

Out in the Cold

When is the very worst time to be a beer drinker?

For every moment you’re about to operate heavy machinery or have been talked into giving up beer for Lent – or as we now call it, Dry January, there is a much worse occasion for the beer lover – and (unlike Dry January) it is one that comes to us all eventually. I’m talking about the common cold. Those who catch full-on flu won’t ever think of that newly-acquired New England IPA blazing down from their beer shelf with reckless abandon – they are too busy splintering into shivery pieces in bed to worry about gaudy can artwork and the nuance of stone fruit flavours.

But for those people who catch the far less sinister cold, they have a dilemma. Not ill enough to ignore booze’s sweet release and yet not well enough to open a farmhouse ale with joyful adventure they are caught between a rock (craft beer) and a hard place (being unwell). It is the worst of all worlds. I mean, you need something to make you feel better – and shouting at Jeremy Kyle isn’t going to cut it. For all the unending sympathy and kind words your partner has for you as soon as the sniffles arrive, there’s a lot to be said for being able to relax in the loving embrace of a barrel-aged imperial stout.

And yet there are plenty of major drawbacks with this. Arguably top of the list are the potential side-effects of mixing that imperial walnut kriek with Lemsip Maxx Strength. Not in terms of the half-kilo of paracetamol contained in the latter – much worse is the clash of lemon and cherry on your palate. There’s also the more fundamental way in which beer and colds don’t mix – you can’t taste much. I’m not descending into craft beer wankery with the inability to detect the ‘top notes of sea herbs’ or the ‘Peruvian cacao…no, it’s *sniff* Chilean cacao’ as much as any light beer tastes like lemonade shandy and any dark beer like week-old Dandelion & Burdock.

Then there’s the booze itself. Whilst you want a comforting embrace – again that your partner gives you every ten minutes to ensure you aren’t suffering alone – the alcohol in your beer of choice seems to end up in all the wrong places. The backs of your knees ache, the sore head somehow becomes compounded rather than soothed, and you instantly feel drowsy and more awake than ever at the same time. The plain and simple fact of the matter is that beer drinking whilst you have a cold just isn’t fun. And if drinking isn’t fun then what the hell is the point of doing it?*

*Answer: to look cool. And chunky dressing-gowns and four-day underwear don’t help in that regard.

Anyone looking for a Dragon’s Den idea could adopt this one – the lemon saison cold remedy. Brew and then powder-up a spritzy, refreshing Paracetamol golden ale and just add warm water for that immediate relief from symptoms and kiss of sweet alcohol we all need now and again (or every day). Maybe introduce a blackcurrant porter as well – blend the cold-relief medication with perfectly-balanced flavours and sub-4% ABV into a sachet and it will make you feel better and give you the beer you are sorely missing.

Otherwise, just let nature take its course and eventually you can get to that cardboard tower of curated beer club arrivals that are blocking your front porch from the outside world. If nothing else they have formed a useful barrier to having anybody from the outside world catch a glimpse of your supernoodle-encrusted face for the last week or so. And once your tastebuds feel better, have at it and just try to forget those dark few days when a virus that has been around since the dawn of time prevented you from tasting IPA for a few days. Stay strong.

In unrelated news, I have a cold at the moment. #PrayforRichard

One of You Will Betray Me

At the start of the week the Morning Advertiser breathlessly revealed that Carlsberg UK had plans to buy a craft brewery based in this country to ‘bolster its growing portfolio with an artisan British beer’, although they tempered this somewhat by going on to state that the Danish behemoths ‘could’ be ready to announce it ‘later this year or early next year’. These thunderous titbits were taken from an interview with Carlsberg UK CEO Julian Momen who blistered with barely-contained levels of aggrieved macro-fury that “there’s no rush about it, we’ve got to make sure it’s the right one.” (somewhere in Copenhagen a viking axe is buried up to the haft in a boardroom table). Are us crafties of the UK going to sit around idly whilst these new Northern hordes plunder our beloved imperial rye banana Kölsch? I think not.

Well Ok, this admission was fairly interesting even if it isn’t exactly a Biblical act of treachery in the making. But the thing with the modern brewing scene is that comments like these – even if they aren’t made with a spinning clacker wheel of brewery names in the background – are going to cause speculation. In fact, the cynic might say that this is exactly the intention of such a statement. To stand there and meet the gaze of everyone from cook to dowager before announcing you know exactly who it will be (as the butler quietly sidles off into a hidden passage). I can’t imagine it will have prospective sellouts looking up the international dialling code for Denmark and flicking through speedboat catalogues, but Carlsberg putting their cards on the table will get people talking.

So let’s do just that. I have zero knowledge of the background to this story or who the potential purchasee might be. But nor do I really believe Mr Momen that they haven’t at least started a spot of due diligence on some potential names in the UK brewing scene. So let’s reach for that clacker wheel.

What exactly did the Carlsberg CEO say? Well very little other than it needed to have the right location, has to be a UK craft brand and one that fits with Carlsberg’s existing portfolio. He also told the team at the Morning Advertiser that they had recently acquired the UK rights to sell Brooklyn lager in UK. Quick! To the hypothesismobile!

    1> The Right Location

The Danes aren’t going to pony up a hundred billion for the Swannay Brewery – even if it is nearer to their HQ than the Houses of Parliament. I reckon you can discount Highlands & Islands breweries and those in remote locations. As a big lager brand, Carlsberg are about two things – firstly city lights and glossy PR, and secondly desperately trying to tie that to a sense of place (hence the recent £15m ‘København’ and Carlsberg Expørt branding push). Having a grittily remote brewery can work for the second of these, but not the first. It might look good on posters but distribution, logistics and the arrival of all those green-coated experts from Denmark means that by location, they mean urban.

    2> UK craft brand

So not a brewery, then (joke). This is the key statement I think – Carlsberg know the market as they likely have teams of researchers plugging the gaps in supermarket shelves up and down the country. They will know that Tesco recently forged ahead with their craft offering at the expense of the breezeblock-sized crates of macro lager you used to see on offer. Which UK craft breweries have recently been added to this rarefied air? Who is currently canning their beer, or will be about to soon and could use a swanky new filling line? The big boys look for value on single lines, they don’t care if a brewery produces ten different IPAs that people pick and choose from. They want an IPA to sell in Sainsbury’s Local stores from Kent to Hadrian’s Wall. That will do nicely.

    3> Carlsberg’s Existing Portfolio

Here’s a quiz question. How many beers and ciders are in Carlsberg’s Portfolio, do you think? Twenty? A hundred? The answer is 484. A few names from the list are Kronenbourg, Mythos, Staropramen, Baltika, Holsten, Grimbergen and the one we all know and love – Sinebrychoff Perinnekalja. But the two key ones here are Brooklyn and Tetley’s (which next year they will have owned for twenty years). For the first of those, see below, but having had Tetley’s under their dragon’s wing for two decades is interesting as it shows they have no problem hoovering up tradition for their purposes. So which UK craft breweries do the modern and the traditional? That would be a neat two-for-one for Carlsberg and we know how much lager producers love their BOGOF deals.

    4> Brooklyn Lager

Carlsberg’s craft lager has arrived. With apologies to Staropramen, Apinitis, Pirinsko and the rest by securing the rights to Brooklyn’s flagship the larger concern have found – or rather, paid for – their Lagunitas IPA and Goose Island IPA. Not in terms of the beer style, but in terms of a shelf-leading presence to rival those of (respectively) Heineken and AB-InBev. It’s a great brand, people know it already, and it has the perfect “well I’ll have that as there’s nothing-better” thing going for it – and I don’t mean that as a sleight, it’s a fantastic beer. But it also means – ironically – Carlsberg don’t need a lager to sit front and centre. What they could do with is a UK craft brewer who pushes the hops. An IPA or Pale Ale bedrock.

But all this is mere reasoned argument and thoughtful deliberation. Let’s cut to something juicier than that opaque New England IPA you are cracking the ringpull on and talk turkey. What do all these things mean when combined into a single strategy and which UK brewery might find Carlsberg UK fluttering their lashes at them over a chequebook? Well, if the Danish overlords are after a single-brand, high-potential, well-located beer producer that appeals to millenials then how about this rampant and unfounded speculation? With apologies to the following, here’s a few names that sprung to mind…

Thornbridge Always the first name mentioned, which must piss the guys in Bakewell off no end. I think this is a measure of the respect people have for them; they have been charging along since 2005 and have a huge range of beers – plus they make the best lager in the country in Lukas. Often the subject of takeover rumours I just can’t see them going over to someone like Carlsberg. Likelihood: 1/5

Beavertown On the face of it the Beavers tick all of the boxes – recent rapid ascent, hardcore programme of canning, a great selection of hop-forward market-friendly pale ales. Plus they have great branding and are set to take over the capital and pull the rug from under the feet of Camden Town as they do. The question is, will Logan and Co want the money over the backlash? I’m not so sure. Likelihood: 2/5

Redwell Smaller than Beavertown but another brewery dipping their toes in the world of canning, Redwell have just arrived in Tesco and could be the kind of brewery Carlsberg would subsume and then push to far wider markets. They recently had an issue with their landlord so if someone like the Danish Giants turned up and offered to build them a huge new brewery in East Anglia, would they say no? Likelihood: 3/5

Meantime Another London-based brewery like Beavertown, but one that is very different. This hunch is merely because Meantime have been thrown back and forth like a beachball over recent years, being bought out by SABMiller in 2015 and then sold on to Asahi a year later when the former concern were themselves taken over. Are Asahi confident in their purchase? If Carlsberg offered the right amount, would they pass Meantime on? Likelihood: 3/5

Innis & Gunn Well I have to pick at least one Scottish brewery. Edinburgh Glasgow Perth’s finest acquired Inveralmond just over a year ago to build their portfolio themselves, if Carlsberg decided to enter as the larger Russian Doll they would have all the pieces in place already. They are move-in-ready, if the Sharp family are looking for a chance to cash out, that is. Carlsberg could well be up for it Likelihood: 4/5

Rampant speculation is all this is however – who (if anyone) will it be? Time will tell…

#TrainBeer? Save it for when you get there…

There is nothing more British than drinking on trains. Well, maybe drinking in airports before dawn, but that’s about the only exception. Anybody who travels on public transport has seen it for themselves on pretty much every train trip – the buckets of lager, the crates of beer, the bottles of fizz and plastic cups. It’s an expected (even accepted) part of rail travel in this country. Find a seat, find an opener. As someone who often shares trains with Geordie oilmen travelling home after a month offshore, I have seen things you couldn’t possibly imagine. But it’s all fine – if you want to drink on the go, more power to you. But the other reason why doing so is just so British is because it is also inherently crap. There’s nothing good about it.

Ok, so it might help dull the pain of your immediate surroundings or companions within earshot – but these days everyone is plugged in, even in the Quiet Coach (aka the Middle Class Tutting Zone)* so a simple volume raise and tactical close of the eyes cuts out anything and everything. Maybe you’re pre-loading before arriving at something you don’t really want to do (which again might actually be the most British thing ever, instead). But all the people getting stuck in, from the carrier bags of Strongbow to the Prosecco to the multi-coloured new craft #trainbeer cans – they are missing out on one of life’s true pleasures. For every foil-covered plastic cup of station concourse wine or buffet car beer – there is a much greater reward waiting later. The beer when you get there.

*I once almost saw a fight break out between two guys over a phonecall before the train had even left the first station. Sometimes a Tut is not enough.

The tedium of long journeys – if you are unlike me and don’t derive some weird satisfaction from pressing your nose to the window and mentally keeping note of every wild animal you see – can be instantly rendered obsolete by that first, thirst-quenching pint when you get to where you are going. Take every photo of #trainbeer, even the Cloudwaters and the like, and would you honestly trade them in with that pint of London Pride at the top of this post? The one poured at the Parcel Yard in King’s Cross and enjoyed in long slaking gulps after nearly five hours of rattling around on a Virgin East Coast service from Edinburgh? It’s all about context – you know this – and the pint pictured above is going to be better than any NEIPA in a plastic cup.

That’s what ruins #trainbeer for me. Firstly, the inevitable explosion when it opens (that is a true story for me; Kernel London Porter bought from Sourced at St Pancras. I think that’s the real reason why East Coast changed their interiors). Then there’s the crappy plastic cups, like drinking a beer in a hotel bathroom. Unless you bring matched glassware on a train, of course. Then there’s the elbow room, the rumbling around as you try to take delicate sips of the 11% mango IPA whilst the train jars your fillings loose. And then to top it all off, it makes you need to pee and you have to venture into the toilet, or travelling wet-room to give them a more realistic description.

Instead, waiting until you arrive means you’re clear of head and (relatively) empty of bladder, you can go to an old favourite haunt or try somewhere new. Even venture into the railway bar which these days are a billion times better than how they used to be – case in point, on that trip that ended with a London Pride two guys behind me were travelling from Newcastle to York to spend a day in the York Tap and get the train back. So they were never even going to leave the station. Clear those dusty pipes with a pint. Something sessionable, carbonated and lip-tinglingly bitter. After all, deliberately depriving yourself of something that everyone around you is enjoying so you can have the last laugh later – that, surely, is the most British thing of all.

Fastest Finger First

What is the most effective weapon these days in the search for brand new beer online? Aside from a credit card that doesn’t scream at you, I mean? It’s not Google – searching for ‘Cloudwater Juicy Banger 10% Pineapple Can Hazy’ will only lead to out of stock dead ends and beer tasting blogs either loving or hating the white whale they ended up with. No, the secret to beer success online these days sits at the top of the keyboard, a short stab away – it is the humble F5 key.

Hammering F5 every twenty seconds to refresh a browser window is the modern equivalent of dialling and re-dialling TV Competition hotlines – back in the day when you wanted something equally badly, the frantic phone number entry upon hearing the first microsecond of the engaged tone was a rite of passage. Eventually, the redial button made that much less joint-painful and if you really wanted those Wham tickets (in a totally, off the top of the head random example, say) then you could place the handset on the kitchen table and use one thumb to hit the hang up button and the other the redial button a fraction of a second later. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Nowadays nobody uses their phones to phone anybody and trying to beat the queue has moved from jammed switchboards to servers straining under the power surge. The F5 key – essentially the redial button for the modern age – has come into play once again for the chasers of craft beers’ equivalent to Wham tickets – rare bottle releases. Whereas that band you truly love (and associated cloud of hairspray) may never turn up in your town again, these days it is the trundling of a flat-bed from a European brewery of choice that gets the heart pounding. I wrote recently about the new fad of Americans lining up outside breweries just on the off chance a beer launch happens – I guess the truth is that many people have been doing that – in an online sense – over here for years.

This morning was the perfect chance to see exactly what that is like – and for the first time, I decided to join in. Beer Merchants posted a blog yesterday with the subtle title ‘Cantillon is not currency’ and the news that they were about to receive limited stock of beers from the whitest of all whales – Cantillon. As they put it, whenever the musty Brusselwagon arrives it results in ‘2,000 people trying to buy 20 bottles’ and the website goes to pot. That’s great news for them, and posting that piece the night before a mysterious re-up of the new beers would have probably added another thousand to that number of unlucky sour beer fans. But this is what people do, everything ready, card details pre-entered, finger hovering over that ‘add to cart’ button in anticipation.

The crux of the Beer Merchants piece was that they are now looking to ban anyone found touting their rare purchases from buying beer in the future. This black market in limited-edition beer isn’t new either – filled growlers have been appearing on EBay in the US when a draught-only release hits the taps, and anyone who has been lucky enough to visit Westvleteren and ring the monks beforehand* can attest to the Euro-waving gauntlet you have to negotiate on the way out. I’m sure those guys who wave bundles of banknotes in the direction of your car boot are just really, really keen to get that Untappd check-in. But fair play to Beer Merchants – laying down some new (if surely impossible to police) groundrules whilst simultaneously stoking that fervour is great for business.

*Leave it to the Belgians to give you reason to re-live those days chasing Wham tickets…

Anyway, so on the stroke of 10am when the new beers were going live I’d filled my cart with 11 other Belgian and UK beers and was ready for a sweet, sweet taste of Cantillon to complete my dozen. Never having done this kind of thing before, I had to come up with a plan of attack. Guessing it was just a reallocation of existing Cantillon bottles they had on the site that were out of stock I focused all my attentions on one. That beer was Cantillon Grand Cru Bruocsella – the rarest of the rare, one of the only unblended lambics in the world. The product of a single vintage as opposed to the (delicious) wave of Gueuze that takes different years and creates something majestic. Bruocsella is the real deal. When going after Moby Dick, aim for the largest white whale there is. I cracked my knuckles at 09:58 and started hitting that F5 key. And at 10am, a puff of vapour appeared on the horizon. There she blows!

So it turns out I learned a very important lesson about hunting white whales. In the race of rowboats towards the prize, don’t let yours be weighed down and held back by other, smaller cetaceans attached to your canoe. In the high seas bloodbath that followed (all in the space of five minutes), the fog of server demand descended as the Beer Merchants site ground to a halt and could not be reached. However, in between these waves of static a positive sighting – a single bottle of Bruocsella in my online cart! Fling the harpoon towards checkout and…a miss. Items out of stock. Not Cantillon – Buxton and Stillwaters’ collaborative imperial stout Subliminial. No longer in stock, it anchored my pirogue and in the time it took to discover it was the red herring of the 11 onboard, the white whale had gone. Also out of stock. I had failed. The entire skirmish lasted 19 minutes.

As the ghost of a whale slipped away, snared on the harpoons of others – I consoled myself with the eleven beers in the case, and resolved to head back to port and hunt more common game in future. A lesson learned.

The #IcemanPour Cometh

A, or B?

Trends in the world of craft beer come and go. You may even hold the point of view that craft beer itself is a trend, of course, which is fair enough. But aside from that we have seen the rise and fall of the Black IPA, the sudden proliferation of the pint-usurping schooner, and all manner of portable travel mugs for beer (growlers, crowlers etc). There are two schools of thought about what drives these trends – some are instigated by the brewers to help push their business and grow the sector, and others are driven by public demand and are then adopted by the beermakers to satisfy that need. It’s a chicken and egg thing. But there is one very recent trend that is entirely driven by the eggs (the public). I’m talking about the #IceManPour, bro.

Some things us consumers come up with deserve time and recognition; the move to more concern about where our beer comes from, for instance. And on the flipside you have the #IceManPour. One of the strangest things to happen to the wide-eyed world of craft beer since the resurgence of the Gose, this is the modern fascination of the moment. Beer poured into a glass right to the brim, leaving zero room for foamy head. CAMRA’s ‘take it to the top’ campaign for the extreme craft generation. Where once your lips were greeted by pillowy, lip-tingling froth, now it’s a quick slurp to stop the contents of your beer from hitting your carpet instead of your tastebuds.

The #IceManPour, nailed

As with many trends these days, the #IceManPour (or #BossPour) is a bastard child of social media, having sprung from a few daredevil pourers on Instagram. Users like theiceman13 and benhur345 love nothing more than running out of room in their glassware, pushing the limits of fluid dynamics by leaving a gently convex beer surface clinging to the tops of their tekus. The rest of us look on in bemused wonder thinking that in our day something handed over like that would result in a trip back to the bar for it to be be-frothed once again. Although when the meniscus is wobbling like a week-old jelly it takes some skill to take the glass anywhere without it dribbling down the sides. As I discovered for myself.

Yes in the interest of capturing the zeitgeist/having found myself in a hotel room with nothing to do, I gamely had a go at the #IceManPour. Turns out it is a lot harder than it looks (even if the only thing it looks is like a glass of orange juice – and more on that later). The beer I sacrificed on the altar of progress was Magic Rock’s brand new 7% IPA Clairvoyance – apologies in advance to Rich, Stu and the team in Huddersfield. I don’t believe they explicitly refer to it as a New England IPA, but brewed with oats, wheat and acidulated malt it’s near enough to the style that helped push the #IceManPour along (it is fermented with Californian, not Vermont Ale yeast so isn’t 100% NE kosher).

What you will need to have a go at home

As there’s no point in having an artistic movement develop without a muse, the top-heavy pour and these specific beers now go hand in hand. Brewers are raising the mouthfeel and stone fruit elements of their IPA’s and cutting back on the bitterness and the sap-like resins, and these New England or Vermont IPA’s have taken off recently. In turn the beers have created their own sub-trend when it comes to dishing them up. I’m not sure which came first (and the IceMen also turn their hand to darker beers) but it seemed only fitting to stick to style when it came to the time to make the magic happen.

One of the keys to doing this is to pick a beer that is opaque (tick) and with very little carbonation (tick) as a continually forming head is the enemy to all #BossPourBros. Forget your pilsners. After pouring and a fair bit of slurping, the head on my Clairvoyance had reduced to a minimal lacing – but this is far, far too much for the #IceManPour so the only thing I could do was wait. Ten minutes passed, the head subsided a little more and I got a whole lot thirstier. Still bubbles. So there was only one thing for it, I was going to have to resort to some dabbing. I’ve done a few beer photoshoots with the day job so am no stranger to mopping the outside of a streaky glass with blueroll, but I’ve never delicately mopped a tiny froth from the top of a glass with looroll. That one is a first.

There’s no way you can do this without feeling like a tit

Anwyay, after a few minutes of this and careful topping up with a teaspoon – no really – I had to decant some IPA from the can into a tea cup and then spoon it onto the surface of the beer to delicately create the meniscus and get the level of the beer right on the rim of the glass – I was good to go. And was it worth it? No, not even slightly. It’s ridiculous. The whole thing took twenty minutes and I was left with something I could only drink by bending over and slurping the glass without moving it. Thankfully, a couple of goes and a quick whirl of the glass brought the head back to life and I could turn my back on the #IceManPour forever. Does it look cool, though? Am I missing out? Well, maybe.

The overall point here is that it’s a bit of fun. It’s not going to take off and become mainstream, anytime soon. But if you like pouring your beer like that and you have the patience (or a better technique than me; there were no online manuals to consult so I had to think on the fly) then good for you. Personally I love the foam on a beer, how it aids the aromas, the sensation it brings to that first sip, the buffer it provides and the way the carbonation lifts all the flavours. I don’t hate the #IceManPour – and there are a few users who really do, like this video from an almost visibly angry nowhalezbro.

But maybe the best way to respond to the #IceManPour guys is just to let them have their fun, and poke back. Like Evil Twin, who trolled them with an #IceManPour of their own, apparently using orange juice…

Doesn’t this look more appealing?

Craft Beer and the Dangers of Self-Parody

Hype. Momentum. Passion. For better or worse, these are all things that craft beer needs to gain to eke further into the mainstream of the UK beer culture. It’s happening; tickets for craft beer festivals are selling out faster than ever, new releases are being hoovered up on beer-toting websites quicker than they can be re-stocked. This is all great – although there is something that could become problematic in the long run. The first of those three descriptors can be a double-edged sword – hype is something that should be believed, but only up to a point. And for a perfect example of when it has gone too far, take a look (as ever) across the Atlantic.

There, amidst the boom-times of craft beer where your average corner store carries two dozen different refrigerated six packs of IPA, the flipside of this new all-encompassing passion has taken hold. In an eye-opening blog post, Don’t Drink Beer reported what happened when LA-based Monkish Brewing Co casually tweeted that people could head to the brewery and buy a four pack (each) of triple IPA.

Within half an hour, over three hundred people were queuing outside. At 3pm on a Wednesday. The staff who work at the brewery have also stated that as a result of this kind of hype, people now regularly turn up to wait outside the brewery when it is closed, just in case a similar announcement is made and they can be at the front of the line.

Firstly, this is hilarious. Secondly, if you love beer that much and you’ve nowhere important to be on a Wednesday afternoons, then go for it – I’m no-one to judge; back in my Uni days when Wednesday afternoons were kept free for sports teams to play their matches, my sport of choice was snooker. Monkish certainly have a reputation – they make sours, they can small-batch beers and they are extremely small so don’t distribute far (if at all) outside the immediate vicinity. They are perfect vessels to perpetuate the craft beer bubble.

Because, let’s face it, that’s what this is about. The people lined up in the car park of that brewery starting into their smartphones aren’t curious about what pale ale might taste like, or wondering whether a stout they saw would be nicer-tasting than Guinness. They are the thin end of the wedge; the tip of the spear. They are also those who leave empty chairs in line so they don’t need to queue (with hilarious passive-aggressive consequences, as Don’t Drink Beer also reported). The entirely predictable upshot of that trend is ‘chair mules’ that will now sit in line for you, for a fee, so you don’t have to.

That last fact may not be true, of course – but the truth is it is entirely believable. And that is where the US seems to be headed. I was trying to think of a parallel for this, and the only one I could think of was about ten years ago when I found myself with an afternoon to kill in Sydney and (whereas now I would obviously hot-foot it to the nearest shuttered brewery just in case) I ended up in the World Stamp Expo. Not having any interest in collecting small sticky squares of paper, it was fascinating wandering around watching those that do. Some people always take their hobbies to the extreme.

This is human nature, I suppose. But would the parking-lot lines of the US ever become car park queues in the UK?

I’m not so sure – and not just because craft beer (and therefore the endgame-level enthusiasm) hasn’t spread as far into the public consciousness here. You could be trite and say we have crappier weather here than those lining up in the LA sunshine; but the #ChairGate scandal happened in the pouring rain in Pennsylvania.

The reasons why I think you’d never see something similar here is that aside from the smaller numbers of people who give a shit about that kind of thing, we have freer and easier distribution and online shopping in the UK; more avenues to get small-batch beer to you, if you want to find it. No three-tier nonsense, no State rules and nationwide couriers who’ll get your double IPA to you with little effort (unless you live in the Highlands & Islands of course).

Also there’s the final rub – maybe we just don’t go in for public displays of geekery over here as much. We sure love to queue patiently, but not for something that involves that level of dedication. Stamp shows, train enthusiasts – solitary pursuits, best performed as quietly and individually as possible. Becoming part of something larger that gains nationwide attention? Not quite just yet, Britain. Although if the hype that has helped push craft beer onwards continues, this could be where we end up. If we do, don’t forget those camping chairs.