Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Friday, 24 December 2010

A matter of some delicacy

Yesterday, those with fast reaction times may have noticed a Works Well post with a blog life of ten minutes. I was reflecting on my personal guidelines for blogging and on the unexpected late-life benefits blogging has brought me. Sentimentality got the better of my prose, hence the deletion. Here’s its replacement.

On the Fünffingerplatz blog the subject of beer is omnipresent, recently extended to traditional English pint glasses. I commented there were two types (the jug with a handle and the straight-sider), each representing the two sides of the class divide. This was disputed - in the nicest possible way. I offer this historical adumbration.

Once, nearly all pint glasses were straight siders, widening very slightly towards the top. Their obvious benefit was the thinness of the glass. In the fifties keg beer was introduced in the UK and was welcomed; its flavour was anodyne but its quality was consistent, unlike conventional pump beer then sold, wretchedly maintained, by many careless landlords.

A few years later, in reaction to keg beer (symbolised by Watney’s Red Barrel), the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) began. Drinkers were offered a much wider choice of pump beers served by landlords who understood the need to care for their pipes, etc. CAMRA was a middle-class initiative and its supporters, many of them Hooray Henries, insisted on straight-sided glasses. Keg beer lingered in pubs where drinkers seemed not to care about these newer beers and, in my mind, is associated with much thicker handled jugs with a discouraging mould line round the rim.

It is no longer PC to pretend to be objective about the UK class system and so I will leave it at that.


Rouchswalwe said...

So that's how it is. Mmm. I have always wished to one day have an ale in a proper English pub. I see now that this is going to be well nigh impossible. I might just have to bring along my own drinking vessel. The heft of a handled mug appeals to me for many reasons (for instance, one can keep a tight grip on it and it's much more useful in a brawl). If it's glass, the amber/dark ales I prefer look stunning as the light sparkles through the dimples. If the mug is stoneware, one won't notice the sediment and floating particles of a homebrew (some drinkers are squeamish, what can I say). A thin straight glass shows fingerprints and lacks lip-feel. So for this German-American, choosing a vessel for the beer is more about practicality and at its best, is meshed with aesthetics. Now, my dark side ... I do shake my head in utter despair when I see a beer drinker glugging the brew straight from the bottle or can. Terrible.

Lucy said...

I'm still rather taken with the idea of the pink china pots...

Happy Christmas to you and yours BB dear, I'll just have to imagine the sentimental accolades!

Plutarch said...

I enjoy this business about mugs, or jugs or even pots (More room for class speculation on choice of terms here) I had no idea that there was a class divide on the subject, but I was aware of a different sort of CAMRA bit). Staight sides were acceptable to a certain sort of person, handles were out. The problem for me was I didn't know which you were supposed to choose, or which sort of person you were supposed to be if you chose one or the other. Best of all I didn't care then and I care even less now. A pint of Harvey's at The Grove Tavern is all I ask.

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): The class thing only applies to certain pubs. Many pubs (eg, the majority in central London) are classless so feel free... And there are international exceptions. If for instance you've ordered 500 ml of beer in Germany it's more likely you'll get it it in a handled glass with the scalloped external pattern BUT there is usually a subtle difference: unlike those on the bulging English jug the walls of the German jug are parallel.

Lacking lip feel. This sounds like a complex philosophical proposition. When I drink beer, as when I drink wine, the thinner the glass the better.

Glass as a weapon. The weapon of choice is usually a bottle, smashed on a table edge.

Drinking out of bottle. I agree, hideous. The glass delivers a wider swathe of beer to the tongue and thus a greater taste sensation.

Lucy: And you call yourself a serious drinker (You confessed some time ago you toped).

Plutarch: I can't respond to all the points you raise here. Perhaps a seance where the ghost of Basil Alldis is evoked.

Rouchswalwe said...

BB, I feel I must clarify my previous statement: The heft of a handled mug appeals to me for many reasons (for instance, one can keep a tight grip on it and it's much more useful in a brawl) in light of my toast to peace made at the Fünffingerplätze'. You see, broken bottles cause the beer-drinking activities to cease, which is horrific. A sturdy handled mug, however, allows one to bonk the offending party on the head with a minimum danger of breakage and little loss of beer. You've made your point and are able to continue drinking. Voilà.

[Will address the lip-feel issue at a later time.]