Danny Wallace stands his ground against the march of craft beer
The first time I met my Australian father-in-law, in a pub off Brick Lane, I ordered a pint of Foster’s and he said nothing about it at all.
It turns out that this was a gentlemanly act on his part, because my wife was horrified when I told her.
“Australians don’t drink Foster’s!” she said, but she’d misread the situation entirely. My ordering a pint of Foster’s was in no way an attempt to ingratiate myself with her dad. I was not saying, “Look! I’m drinking Foster’s! I am just like you Australians who all definitely drink Foster’s!”
The truth is, I’d ordered a pint of Foster’s because I just really like Foster’s.
And Stella. And Beck’s. And especially Heineken.
The cold! The fizz! The first hit of a first pint!
And someone reading this will have just curled their lip in disbelief and banged their fist on the table and yelled something like, “They’re not real beers, Danny! They taste of chemicals and water!”
But they don’t. They taste of beer.
They taste of long afternoons in the pub with your best pals, and sunny days and barbecues. They taste of normal.
Now, I love craft beers, too. But not one after the other. I had one that was made with chamomile the other day. Chamomile! I’m pleased I had it. But I’m not ordering one out loud.
The rise of craft beer is to be applauded. But it is a time to test us. Let us not turn our backs on our non-glamorous friends, who’ve been there for us through thick and thin, just because a bottle with a hand-drawn label that smells of coriander and was brewed in the basement of a monastery by a salmon-fisherman collective on the Isle Of Bute just waltzed in. It would be like turning our backs on a fry-up just because someone with a beard has opened a cereal café. It would be like saying we’ll never again enjoy Marmite, because that doesn’t look as good on Instagram as avocado on toast. It would be like saying, “Why would you have a Big Mac when you could have pulled pork and coleslaw on a toasted brioche bun?”
Well, because Big Macs are awesome. And I’m sick of brioche buns. And we don’t have to put coleslaw on everything! And you never used to buy that many avocados! Now have another McNugget and shut up.
Incidentally, I never told my wife the full truth about that night with her father.
That immediately sounds wrong.
What I mean is, I didn’t have a Foster’s. I had a Foster’s shandy.
I’m just not sure an Australian could take that.
But sometimes? We just want normal.