The British Beer and Pub Association are hoping that women in the UK are going to start turning their noses up at the usually favoured Chardonnays and Merlots, and opt for a nice glass of beer instead. One of the ways in which they plan to lure the female market to the barrels is by serving real ale in third-pint glasses. Maybe it’s the women I mix with but, my goodness, how we all laughed in our pint glasses when we heard this little piece of news.
Speaking as a long-term beer lover, a one-time judge at a beer festival (probably the only one there without a beard), and a woman to boot, I think I am in a suitable position to comment on this sexist and elitist strategy.
For as long as I’ve been old enough to frequent pubs, I have known my Speckled Hen from my Sutton Comfort, and my Broadside from my Bishop’s Tipple. Over the years I have come to love real ale in all its cheering, scrumptious, glorious forms and one thing I know is that it does not require rebranding in order to appease a few women who choose their drinks solely on the basis of the shape and volume of the glass that it is served in.
If I went into a pub and the barman offered me a beer in a third pint glass, I’d assume that he wanted to get to know me better. If every time I went to the bar I was given such a miniscule serving, I would spend as much time ordering it as drinking it.
What the breweries mean, of course, is that - in the words of Little Britain’s rubbish transvestite Emily Howard - they want to create a ‘laydees’ drink for ladies. They want to turn my lovely, dependable, reassuring beer into a sophisticated lifestyle drink, instead of leaving it where it belongs – in the annals of working-class culture.
For centuries, a good old pint has been associated with sing-songs, smoky pubs, raucous laughter and lively banter. Call me a beer snob, if you like, but real ale is for real people and those who feel they can only order it if it is served up in a fancy glass, quite frankly, don’t deserve it.