Vive la différence! Offer the choice but some will stick to their own...
ASURVEY by the There’s A Beer For That campaign has shown that 45% of consumers prefer lager to any other drink, and that 60% had only ever tried up to five different styles of beer despite the massive range that is currently available, writes Neville Grundy.
Some commentators have expressed frustration that so many British drinkers are reluctant to experiment, but this shows that they don’t really understand people’s drinking habits.
For many people their drink is merely an adjunct to their social life; it is not the purpose of it.
They don’t want to experiment, and would rather find a pint that suits them and get on with whatever they are doing, such as meeting friends, pub quizzes, watching football matches or live music in pubs, or special occasions such as weddings.
Another reason why people don’t experiment is because there are still some drinkers, possibly a diminishing number, who feel loyalty to a particular brand of beer.
For example, a friend of mine regards Fuller’s London Pride as the best beer on the planet, and if that’s on the bar he won’t touch any other beer.
People are entitled to have favourites.
Even drinkers of real ale (or of craft beer for that matter) do not want to spend every second of their drinking life constantly experimenting.
If you’re out for a night with friends and find a pint you like, you may stick with that while you enjoy yourself, rather than constantly searching for something different. Indeed, many real ale drinkers like to see something familiar on the bar, and can find an ever-changing array of beers that they’re unfamiliar with off-putting.
There’s no need for impatience with people sticking with what they know, considering that until the early 1990s, the choice of beer in most towns was severely limited to the products of the few breweries who owned nearly all the pubs.
We’ve come a long way since then, but there will always be drinkers who will have a favourite brand, or small range of brands.
There can be a lot of pleasure in trying different beers, but it’s not compulsory to do so.
The best approach is to say vive la différence – assuming we’re still allowed to after the EU referendum vote.
Southport and West Lancs Camra website: www.southport.camra.org.uk.
For previous Camra articles, go to: tinyurl.com/vispubs.
There is such a choice compared with the early 1990s that there can be a lot of pleasure in sampling different beers – but it’s not compulsory