Really random beer

Beer style is a fairly crude market segmenter. The beer scene may have evolved around its artisan edges, but marketers loves comfortable labels. Lager for the lads. Bitter for the old boys. Stout for those on the craic. Something implausibly fruit-based for the ladies. Barrel-aged double triple gooseberry hefeweizen for the craft beer aficionado.

So having set up these broad-brush steroetypes, how does the industry sell different styles to contented topers? Do they sing the praises of other beer types? Bearing in mind they've spent millions trying to define whom a drinker is by the kind of beer they choose? Do they tinker with  preferred tipples; assist the drinker to segue between styles without making seismic shifts? "It's a bitter that looks like lager! It's stout, but it's red! It's bitter, but it's sweet and fruity! It's lager, but it's... err... a bit weaker than the one you drink at the moment!"

I'd love to see a pub serve random beer. Because, what often defines a drinker's preference is historical antecedence and the power of brand advertising. How about offering up a flight of five third-pints, served in black glasses; lager, bitter, stout, wheat, fruit. Get drinkers to compare and contrast. Forget prejudice, just experiment instead. I'm not talking about craft beer geek stuff at brewpubs - just regular keg beers in regular  bars for regular drinkers.

I didn't swap Guinness for gueuze overnight. Unbeknownst-to-me beers from well-intentioned friends and semi-sociopathic landlords helped me along the way.  I'd like to see more pubs offer up a random range and see if drinkers' artificially-restricted beer horizons can be broadened.


  1. Hell yeah! It's fun to just be passed a beer and told to drink it, not knowing what it is. But black glasses? That's a bit ikea-stripper-chic!

  2. Black glasses so you can't see what you're drinking.

    And I read that as 'Ikea-stripper' chic; had visions of roaming the aisles for a flatpack stripper, strapping one to the roof-rack and having to take their clothes off myself over a period of four hours on a Sunday afternoon.

    Which is nice.

  3. Randomness is pretty much how I think I drink, especially when faced with a list of unfamiliar beers as long as my arm (ok, I don't really have long arms, relatively-speaking, but you know...). I like the idea of total, blind randomness though, as that's the kind of thing that shatters preconceptions.