The BBC website has a item about the decline in the sale of lager in the UK . It asks if Britain has fallen out of love with Lager. It’s an interesting piece and one best explained and summed up for me by where part of the original attraction came from ” young people from working-class backgrounds were going abroad for the first time and trying new beer. Lager appealed to them because it was refreshing, new and quite exotic” says Roger Protz, editor of Camra’s Good Beer Guide.
When that same group of people go abroad these days they walk into bars and clubs and instead of seeing something ” new and quite exotic”, they see – as a result on mass consolidation in the brewing world – exactly the same beers they can get in their local at home. You want a pint of Heineken, we’ve got it. You no longer have to find the ‘British’ pub, because all the bars are already selling the same stuff you get at home (although depending just where is was ‘brewed under licence’ will alter the taste).
I also agree that you don’t need to be a mastermind to figure out the huge increase in cider sales has, in part, been a result of how it is advertised – as a drink that anyone (of age) can drink as opposed to ads for the likes of Fosters with their laddish (really, we’re still doing this in 2014?) ads – although frankly if you derive any actual pleasure from drinking Fosters I fear you taste buds may have been removed, and you’re beyond help.
I think we can hold off with the nails for the coffin though. ‘Beer’ to most of the world still means Lager and it is not going away anytime soon. I still know more lager drinkers than either ale or cider drinkers, of those who would opt for a pint or a half in the pub.
And, there is still a lot of really GOOD lager out there, if you know where to look, whether it be from Craft brewers or just from local brewers (at home and abroad). As Protz says the big manufacturers are already starting to learn from ale’s example and they too are jumping on the craft bandwagon – see Fuller’s Frontier lager for example. And, as long as they are also improving the quality and not just appropriating the craft name as an excuse to sell the same naff beer at more inflated prices, then that is fine, and welcome.