Sunday, 1 February 2015

Was everything rubbish in the past?

This weekend's Guardian has a piece called A Brief History of IPA

The repetition of myths about India Pale Ale is pretty much to be expected and is rightly challenged in the below the line comments but the thing that really struck me - and is also challenged by one of the commenters - is the idea that decent cask beer has only become widespread in the last decade.

Maybe, as the writer claims, parts of London were a beer desert until then but in Manchester where I cut my drinking teeth as a teenager in the late 80's there's always been plenty of decent cask beer, mainly from local breweries Holt's, Hydes and Robinson's, and when I went to Stoke as a student in the early 90's pretty much every street corner had a pub on it selling cask, most of it, unsurprisingly, from Staffordshire breweries Banks's, Bass and Marston's. I can remember drinking well-kept cask beer in London back then too.

There's a word for this that I'm struggling to remember. You could call it new-ism: the idea that things are better now than they ever have been. The opening of new breweries and specialist beer bars and rediscovery of beer styles in the last few years is something to be celebrated, but not at the expense of claiming that the beer and pubs of the past were uniformly rubbish.

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