Beer Tinted Spectacles is about beer stories. And in a way, it started when I was 13.
At School, only the select few who showed an aptitude (and interest) in languages got to study German with Mr Jeffers. A formidable teacher intellectually, Mr Jeffers. When the school took a trip to St Petersburg, he learnt Russian specifically for the jaunt. When the Head of Physics had a heart attack, he took over as Head of Physics. He was a formidable pianist. He was a bit scary, and when he spoke German, this magnified threefold. But he won me over in the first lesson.
What did I expect to learn? Guten Tag? Auf wiedersehen? Wie geht’s?
No. “If you want to get by in German you need to know the essentials. Write this down:”
Darf ich bitte ein bier bestellen? … ‘May I order a beer please.‘
Behind that moment, that fractional second in time, my life was inadvertently changed. A new country. A new language. A new passion.
At first there was practical experience. Pints of terrible Heineken in scabby nightclubs or bottles of Becks that smelt like warm dog wee when you prized off the crown. What is it with these Germans, I thought? What’s the fuss? Then, a trip to the Rhine valley with my father and it all fell into place – the smell of würst, mustard, pretzels and fresh, fresh beer, tapped from a wooden barrel, gilded with hop leafs and drunk in a beer garden sloping down to the water with a canopy of hops above. “Herr Ober? Zweimal bier, bitte!”. Mr J would be proud. And the other Mr J – Jackson, this time, guided me forwards, his New World Guide to Beer, my travel companion. I have it still.
After University my relationship with beer formalised. 20 years working for Bass began with an interview at Cape Hill Brewery in Birmingham with a pair of distribution managers from Liverpool who looked and behaved like Cannon and Ball. Over that same period I witnessed a vertically-integrated British brewer change into an international behemoth. I saw the passion for great beer and the influence of the brewers decline just as my own personal curiosity was rekindling. I’m not that old, but old enough to remember when beer choice in the UK was desperate. Today it’s a revelation – we should rightly revere it but remain vigilant too. A new wave of consolidation, right across the drinks industry worldwide is threatening choice, integrity and quality again.
I re-entered the real world ten years ago. Today I’m a member of The British Guild of Beer Writers www.beerguild.co.uk and a judge for the UK Beer and Cider Marketing Awards www.beermarketingawards.co.uk. I am founder of brand building company The Crow Flies, helping brands (and not just beer brands) build strong foundations for long-lasting success – you will see views on brands and beer here because I can’t help myself. Non beer writing is at Morning Mister Magpie.
Beer Tinted Spectacles is © David Preston 2012-2023. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is flattering but strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Preston and Beer Tinted Spectacles with a link to the original content.