How to buy a beer

ParrotDog 'Otis' (Golding's Free Dive, 13 July 2013)
ParrotDog ‘Otis’ — or, in context, “George Clooney in an offbeat philosophical sci-fi mindfuck directed by Shane Black”1

A little while ago — you’ll notice a few references to more-wintery weather in the recording — I sat down with Megan Whelan of The Wireless for a little ramble about how to buy a beer. A seemingly-simple task, perhaps, but one that can be done all the better with a little preparation and practice. I offer a few suggestions for navigating this boom time of beer — and even though the audience here might consider they already have this stuff down, I offer it in the hopes you’ll take it on board, pass it around, and use it as a little internal check to make sure you’re treating the newbies nicely.

It’s been posted during The Wireless’ month of Excess, amid (excellent) articles on binge drinking and the traps of the wrong kinds and quantities of consumption, so it also takes on a small character of Manifesto For Better Drinking, broadly in line with what Matt Kirkegaard was saying the other day — Drink Less, Drink Better; Drink for Flavour, Not for Effect — what Stone & Wood pondered on their blog, and what SOBA were getting at with their superadorable poster campaign. I’ll write more fully on the Moral Panic we find ourselves mired in soon but — spoiler alert — this kind of cultural change is our only hope and too-often ignored or underestimated.

The full piece is streamable just below — or, of course, at the original site itself (which you should also check out) complete with a slightly mad-faced shot of yours truly caught mid-ramble — but as a preview, my Commandments are simply these:

  • Be open — break from choice-constraining factors like brand loyalty, peer pressure and habit; seek advice, and give it due (but not deferential) consideration
  • Be informed — about the basics of styles,2 about the lies you’ll be sold (if you’re not careful), about whatever factors you decide are worth caring about
  • Be assertive — treasure your considered and tested preferences; hold them proudly
  • And be nice — service workers are underpaid, under-appreciated and perhaps disproportionately-often Dealing With Stuff — but they might just make the perfect collaborator in finding a wonderful little sequence of delicious beers


1: Originally, I had Joss Whedon in this slot. Then I realised that it was analogy-breaking in that the Parrots, as much as I love their stuff, just haven’t been in production long enough to wear those metaphorical boots. So I’ll give them Shane Black’s; please understand that’s high praise, from me. 
2: Which I only manage in the very broadest strokes, off the top of my head and towards the end of the piece. I’d like to go back and rough out a better Consumer Guide to Basic Beer Styles, but that’s for another time. 
†: Technical difficulties. Please hold… 

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