Fight for your right: in defence of ‘shitty’ beer


Story by Sam Bygrave

So let me start by getting one thing out of the way: I’ve got no problem with craft beer, or craft beer makers. In fact I quite like them. I’m all for diversity.

What I’m not for is craft beer at the expense of tasty beer. I don’t think that all big mainstream brews are shit, just because they’re mainstream. Just because it’s weird and different doesn’t make it good, though weird and different can be good.

I might not have always been that way.


In my teenage ‘punk rock’ years — and I use the inverted commas for a reason — I liked an LA punk band from the 80’s called The Germs. I got really into them for a moment. They sucked. But it was more because they were unlistenable as fuck and everyone else would hate them. They were really fucking terrible. But it was punk, right?

I think the interesting thing is that just as some beer nerds will dismiss the big breweries for the big budgets and lifestyle marketing, they champion the smaller, weirder brews because that helps them to set up an identity of
their own.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that; we all do it. (You might think you don’t, but you do. Advertising agencies know this, and that’s why they get paid so much.)

But I do like to think I know something about what makes a balanced beverage, and too often craft beer makers put out unbalanced crap. Some of it should have never been bottled. Even the bracing and powerful Fernet Branca has a front, back, and middle palate. The aggressively hoppy beers some of these guys make might taste good for you, and that’s great. To me it’s like licking a pine cone, and that’s not something I’ve ever had the desire to do.

By the way, there’s a reason why beers like Tiger are popular in Singapore: they suit the climate, they match the food, and they don’t taste like a funny experiment cooked up in some nerd’s fucking garage.

And as far as the real ales go, I love a good English ale. They’re generally restrained in their use of hops. But if you’ve ever worked in a pub with a handpumped cask, you know what a pain in the arse it is to pull a pint. For the beer to vary from cask to cask is nice in theory, but if you’re running a busy pub and you serve a shit beer to the punter, the punter will only think you serve shit beer. There’s a reason why beer systems improved — so you could actually serve the beer, in good time, to a happy customer.

Now, I’ll be off to the pub for some consistently dull lager. Cheers.

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