This is bit of an old chestnut which I and many others have blogged on before. But it won’t go away. Hardly a week goes by without some report linking alcohol and health. I like the ones that basically say beer is good for you. But then I would, wouldn’t I. I like them for two reasons, firstly because they counteract the myriad of negative ‘medical influenced’ opinions about the use of alcohol and secondly because reports that say beer is good for you distinguish in a positive way beer from other often more harmful alcoholic beverages. Yesterday this piece of ‘news’ hit the world via the Press Association. It doesn’t tell us anything new; in fact it looks like a mash-up of information and opinions that have been in circulation for a while. Hey, but what’s wrong with a little positive reinforcement?
In the current climate it is so important to separate quality beer and particularly real ale from all other alcohol. The general public need to know that real ale is a quality food product containing pure natural ingredients. It is in no way related to fruit flavoured industrial white spirit or even Euro-fizz. Whilst ale might be our national drink it is still not the official drink of this country. I was reminded of this and struck by a quote attributed to Pete Brown, “an award-winning author”:
"Still, we persist in the myth that somehow beer is an inferior drink to foreign imports such as wine. From Government receptions through to weddings and business occasions, wine rather than beer is served.”
Why should this be? There is far too much snobbery and prejudice applied when it comes to beer. Beer is seen as the drink of the lower classes, the unsophisticated and Neanderthals. It can change but it requires a bit more than a few beer buffs banging on about it. For beer to gain a bit more respectability it needs to be taken up as the serious alternative to wine that it really is by influential people in what might be loosely termed the ‘catering trade’. This is the area where organisations like the Beer Academy, SIBA and even CAMRA need to be lobbying hard. If more restaurants, hotels and catering companies took beer seriously, and offered varied choices along with recommendations for beer to go with food then the profile of beer would rise. Get a few celebrity foodies to champion it and we’d be laughing.
I hope that one day, in this country; beer will become the natural and obvious choice of the toast. “Your good health!”