If you’re a fan of British ales, there’s little to wave the flag about concerning the results of a recent survey, released Tuesday by Ciao, an online consumer review website. The online community complied data from reviews and comments from “2.61 million unique visitors” to create a list of the top ten most popular beers in England.
Take a look at the list below, and weep.
- Kronenbourg 1664 Lager
- Guinness Draught Stout
- Stella Artois Premium Lager
- Hoegaarden White
- Grolsch Premium Lager
- Carling Black Label Lager
- Heineken Export Lager
- John Smith’s Extra Smooth Bitter
- Foster’s Lager
- Budweiser Lager
You’ll probably notice right away that there’s only one British beer brand listed — John Smith’s — which, sadly, is owned by Heineken. Seven lagers, two ales and a hybrid. Three are InBev brands. Not one is brewed by an independent company that’s either not ginormous or owned by a larger parent company. Pathetic. At this rate, Americans may actually drink more ales than England. Somebody should look into that. I’d like to know that statistic.
Curiously, they state that number eleven is Carlsberg Special Brew Lager, which they claim makes it the “nation’s least favourite,” as if there are only 11 brands of beer in England. I’m not sure I understand that rationale at all, unless somebody there just wasn’t thinking or perhaps is a complete moron.
On a related, and equally disturbing note, somebody’s put up a website entitled The Campaign For Real Lager, apparently spoofing CAMRA, which I guess is fitting given the current state of beer in the UK. That’s assuming it is a spoof, I must confess I’m not 100% sure, nor was the Brit who sent me the link (thanks Glenn).
The website describes itself like this, with language that cries out as tongue in cheeky:
The Campaign for Real Lager (CAMRL) is an independent, voluntary, consumer organisation whose main aim is to promote and ensure the healthy future of lager beer, and maintain Britain’s greatly renowned lager culture.
CAMRL campaigns to make the big lager brands bigger and keep the great lager pubs great, we seek to quell the worrying rise of the newly fashionable “Real Ale” culture that is leading to the damaging promotion of warm, flat, insipid ‘beers’ ahead of cold, clean, crisp lagers.
Perhaps more unsettling is just how well it’s done; crisp layout, colorful graphics, and punchy copy combine to make the humor wry, dry and appropriately British. Funny and frightening all at the same time. That’s hard to do. The domain is registered to a Matthew Hall of Worcester, which is northwest of London with the closest big city being Birmingham.
On a more serious note, to which CAMRL seems like a kick in the teeth, there’s an article in today’s London Times entitled Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow? whose headline states that “[a]t the current rate of closures, Britain’s last pub will call time in 2037,” asking the ultimate question of whether or not there’s any “light at the bottom of the glass?”
In the article, it is reveled just how dire things are for the British pub:
According to startling figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) released last week, there are now 39 pubs closing in Britain each week. Were the closures to continue at that rate, last orders in Britain’s last pub would be called for the final time one evening in June 2037.
It’s a long article, but worth your time reading, at least in my opinion. The reason it’s relevant is that several states are currently attempting to raise the tax on beer in the U.S. — notably California and Oregon, two states with large craft beer industries, which will be placed at risk should the new higher taxes be implemented. Back in the Great Britain, the British Beer and Pub Association also estimates that a “record 2,000 pubs have now closed since the Chancellor increased beer tax in the 2008 Budget, resulting in 20,000 job losses over the last year.” That’s exactly what would happen here, too. Yet shortsighted moralists and neo-prohibitionists continue to beat the drum for higher taxes, an outrageously dangerous ploy during our economic recession. The one thing not to do in a depression is put more people out of work or force popular consumer goods to rise sharply in price. Either or both will not help the U.S. economy but in fact will harm it even further. What would help is if both countries started drinking a lot of beer that was brewed locally. That’s a trend we should all get behind before there’s no small breweries or pubs left.