Craft Beer: The joke's on you if you're dissin' Road Trippin'
THIS week I picked up a couple of nice IPAs from Beer Hut. The lads in Kilkeel know their hops and both Disco Juice (4.6 per cent) and Spectrum (6 per cent) were tucked away with a high degree of satisfaction.
Disco Juice is a light and juicy number whereas Spectrum leans more towards the west coast (America, that is) IPA end of the, eh, spectrum with sharper, piney and citrus notes.
One thing the past 12 months of more or less blanket lockdown for the hospitality industry here has done is give local producers the time to beaver away and knock out some great beers and I had intended on writing a bit more about some of them this week.
Now, as we emerge from that enforced hibernation, local brewers will be looking forward to hoisting their kegs of goodness to pubs. Of course, the Big Beer stranglehold on the pub scene here means that jostling for tap space can be akin to taking a swipe at Finn McCool.
So my heart sank when I saw a Belfast city centre bar's attempt at a bit of knockabout humour when it listed Bullhouse's fine Road Trippin' pale ale under the heading ‘Overpriced Hipster Beers'. A pint of this locally produced beer was going for £5.95, but it is listed just under pints of Magners and Guinness which will set the thirsty punter back £4.95.
Now without getting into the broader issue of the price of a pint in Belfast, the inference (jocular or otherwise) that the craft is needlessly expensive is very unhelpful. There's a reason why McDonald's can afford to sell the cheapest hamburgers but you're not going to get the glad rags on and take your significant other for a couple of Big Macs for a special occasion (with the greatest respect to the Golden Arches).
The government in the south has made moves to introduce minimum pricing on alcohol, with a similar move mooted in the north. This might elevate the price of a mass-produced pint of lager or stout to somewhere closer to the cost of locally brewed beers.
Of course, the difference will be that the profits derived from the latter will be reinvested in the local economy on the purchase of supplies, payment of rent and rates by brewers and the employment of staff.
Yes, so-called ‘hipster' beer comes at a premium, but you're getting much more than a pint of well-produced beer. You're supporting sustainability and creativity and if that means being a hipster, well chuck me a pair of braces and throw away my razors.