Being a beer writer at the moment is the best time ever.
And in other ways, it just doesn’t fit me.
When I wrote my long list of complaints in my “Everything Wrong with Beer at this Moment” post, I hadn’t even thought prior to tapping those first few words into my computer how strongly I felt about so much sin and detritus coming from a simple act of thirst quenching; the simplest act of pleasure.
Yet, here I still am, a late twenties, mis-diagnosed autistic, depressed, mental health patient who looks for any link to joy and pleasure he can find. And trust me – I’m always searching for it.
So I’ll tell you about joy. I’ll tell you about what it is like to be a pub local for the first time in my life and the unsubstantiated pleasure that came from that moment that I hadn’t expected prior to the experience. I’ll tell you about the feeling you can get that my generation neglect and don’t achieve often enough; something that doesn’t come with experimenting with every beer brewed in the local area within the last three hours.
I’ve never been a pub regular. Yet, on the other hand, I am one to many. Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always had bar staff who recognise me, who know my name, who know I like my beer and who remember me even within weeks of visiting, yet it's always across several establishments. I’ve never been an everyday barfly. I’ve never had a single home that sees me all the time and knows my order and inner workings like they seem to do with so many of the older drinkers. I’ve always felt… young.
Then there was the day. The day came because the pub I visited is still full of regulars at all times of day. It came because, despite its poor reputation, it is a pub that communicates and enjoys the company of its customer. But mostly it came because the pub serves three cask pumps and only one of them is worth drinking (it is excellent though.) With those forces combined, for the first time in my life, I entered a pub with a peer, didn’t utter a single word to a member of staff aside from “Hello,” put my bag down, took my jacket off, asked how a few people I recognised were doing and by the time I turned back to the member of bar staff… there they were.
Two pints of EXACTLY what my order would have been had I been given chance to utter the words. But I didn’t need to. The amount due was not even announced as I rummaged in my pockets for change. We both know the transaction required at this point, but nobody is holding out their hand expectantly. This is the pub. This is the pub that I never got chance to experience. In my ten years of chopping and changing drinks and pub, I’ve never experienced the joy one feels from being part of the crew. I was welcome. I was a regular. I had MY pub.
In a time when experiencing every new bar and beer announced via social media hourly is the key to being a part of this world, I enjoyed my moment of raising a glass to others stood around the bar with me in this poorly 70’s decorated establishment, with juke box, pool table and two fruit machines. The ale was magnificent but the company even better. I enjoyed it that much more. But with all these present day choices, it was nice just this time to not have one; to be affiliated with your beer of choice.
Would I ever have that moment in the “Craft” world? It doesn’t matter at this point. It isn’t an addition to my realisation that sometimes I would “rather be in the pub.” It's just nice to feel part of something and that is the crux of this beer world.