Thirsty walk, crafty connoisseurs and Firkin wine bars

Apart from regular trips to the local, my most enjoyable pub visits are usually allied to a stroll in hills and dales. A quick lunchtime pint or two en route or a few evening pints justified by a thirst after a decent walk.

A gentle session in the likes of the Lathkil at Over Haddon, the George at Hubberholme or the Tan Hill Inn is the perfect end to a tiring day in my book. Usually in the knowledge of another day’s walking to come. As a result I struggle to find an occasion for very strong beers.


I’ve done the craft breweries of Shoreditch and Copenhagen but I like to drink pints. And preferably ones that don’t have a bucket of hops in each glass. I am a beer wimp, not a connoisseur. Part of a generation that likes a few pints not sips.

This is not a rant against craft keg, in favour of real ale, both can have great merit. It’s a post about my personal taste and occasion. But I am not alone as a middle-aged market. As a walking mate of mine said when faced by a range of Thornbridge beers on the bar, “there’s so many of them I can’t have if I’m driving home later”.

The working man of yesteryear wanted to slake his after-work thirst with several pints of Mild, Bitter or a half and half. Essential rehydration and generally not high alcohol levels.

In my childhood, I remember seeing wayward brewery workers in Burton finishing work having had a few beers during their working day. It was said maltsters had to drink beer during the day to replace the sweat lost on the baking hot malting floors.

In my leisured way I’m much the same over my beer choices. After all, it’s a little known scientific fact that any beer 3.8% or below is re-hydrating*. I’d choose a Lord Marples over a Jaipur and of course Deception is better for the thirst (and perhaps the soul) than Absolution. First pint knocked back quickly to quench, the second savoured more slowly and so on…

As beer becomes something of a lifestyle accessory enjoyed in modish craft bars it’s perhaps inevitable that alcohol levels rise and smaller glasses come to the fore. Those folk are more interested in the styles and tastes of their innovative beers, compared to mere beer swillers like me.

Similar to the well-aimed Firkin brewpubs and sophisticated wine bars of the 1980s, perhaps? Where drink was stronger and price kept out everyone except ‘people like us’. I remember those folks in on-trend places, I was one of them in that there London Town. Nothing really changes.

Each to their own, but please dear brewers think of those for whom your 8% Black IPA doesn’t meet the drinking occasion. Wainwright… now that’s what I call target marketing.

*See academic paper by Howells, Lonsdale, Taylor & Thurman as a result of research at the University of Skipton (Woolly Sheep building).

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