Word of Mouth: How Do We Hunt Beer?

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Frank Drebin, getting the ‘word from the street’ (Police Squad)

“….We have Twitter accounts and apps to tell us where the great, unusual beer is these days, but nothing beats word-of-mouth rumours and loyal patronage at The Right Places paying off with incredible beer“.

That was a comment left by Chris Hall (Rum & Reviews/The Beer Diary) on my recent post regarding Five Towns, a brewery that has produced consistently good beer for a while now and gained one of the best word-on-the-street followings that I can think of, without the aid of social media (until recently). He’s absolutely right, and his statement, in my opinion, captures the essence of beer hunting.

Beer Hunting.

Even whilst typing, the phrase seems antiquated. Yet it’s the hunt that still keeps the fire alive for a lot of us. CAMRA Socials, Twissups, Beer Retailer Offers (such as boxes of beer on a certain theme), Crawls, festivals, or simply a quiet pint in a new pub ‘just to see what’s on’ is often not so much about the pint you end up with but seeing what choice you have. Me? I’m more often than not looking for something new, so that I can enjoy it – and then yes, tell people about it. That could be a tweet, or a blog post (if really good), or simply dropping the beer into my next related conversation with a buddy.

Being in the right place at the right time is massively rewarding as it brings the element of surprise into it. I recall after moving to my area a few years ago and finding Marble Pint on the bar of my local, nestled in between the usual faces of Saltaire, Copper Dragon, Leeds and Ilkley. I drank it all afternoon, and despite calling in pretty much weekly that summer, never seeing it again in that pub.

The circle then gets wider as a lot of pubs still do the ‘coming soon’ boards; when topped off with a recommendation from the landlord or bar staff, you’re more inclined to go back to try the beer in question. Many pubs I follow on Twitter now tweet these – which I do find useful – but does it take away a little of the process? Have you missed out on the trail of beer after beer, week after week, being fed tips from the pub in question? When this happens, you feel a little ‘inside the circle’, part of a secret. You’ve got a little insider knowledge.

I guess my point is this: is there a new breed of drinker who only visit pubs when they know something interesting (to them) is on the bar? A drinker who simply doesn’t visit pubs out of routine, as a social venue, thereby missing good ol’ word of mouth? Am I falling into the hoary (well, it seems hoary now) trap of making sweeping generalizations about beer hipsters? Or the younger end of the market?

Answers on a postcard, please. Actually no – just leave a comment.

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About leighgoodstuff

Blog: https://goodfoodgoodbeer.wordpress.com/ I'm Leigh Linley; born and bred in Leeds, and writing about it since 2005. TGS exists solely to highlight the great beers that are out there; brewed with passion by Craft Brewers around the World. I also edit the 'Tavern Tales' section of Culture Vulture, which looks at Pubs and Pub Life rather than the beer in the glass.

Posted on 13/06/2013, in Beer, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. It’s a broad question with scope for broad answers, so I think I’ll try and provide a narrow example. Brains run the pub racket in Cardiff city centre, and many of their pubs are much of a muchness, so I appreciate that when the latest Brains Craft Brewery beer is on, the pubs will Tweet to say which particular pub has it on tap. Saves a lot of shoe leather.

    Occasionally I’ll use Untappd’s feature to see what beers people are drinking nearby, which also means I can hone in a particular beer I like the sound of. That’s the theory, though, as these days people seem to be checking into their house as a venue and drinking bottled beer or homebrew. That’s the last time I knock on a terrace house and ask for a pint…

    By and large though, I go to one or three pubs and chance my drinking arm on whatever will be on tap. He who dares wins, after all.

    Interesting to see you used the Police Squad reference/picture, I also use it for my monthly ‘news and rumours’ piece. “A lot of my readers are asking about the Cinderella complex, Johnny…”

  2. Don’t know what other people do but it’s always more satisfying to find a great new beer by serendipity than by ordering it online.

  3. Comments above are spot on. There’s nothing like going into a freehouse, where you know the beer will be in excellent condition, knowing that there’s bound to be something either new or infrequently drunk on the bar. Whilst social media CAN make us slightly less adventurous, it is SUCH a great source!

    Nice article and nice to see Five Towns getting a bit more light shone on it! The bottle of Barb I had the other evening was superb.

  4. I agree with the previous comments. I like all the new beers that I get to hear about on Twitter from many of the breweries that have sprung up over the last few years. But in reality the chance of them ever gracing a hand pump near me are very slim. So instead, I enjoy going to my local pubs to see what they have on tap. Something local or something from further afield, there always seems to be something new to try. I think this is still a great way to discover and hunt for new beers. You never know when you might something amazing. I do like the mantra mentioned above ‘he who dares wins’ from Craigheap. That is spot on

  5. I’ll call in to the local straight off the train home regardless of what’s on – I rarely check beforehand – but if I’m meeting people in town after work I’ll research pubs in the meeting location and what beer is currently on or even suggest meeting at pubs where social media etc has informed me where a beer I want to try is.

  6. I would guess that there are a small number of people who choose which pub to go to based on having heard on the grapevine that Rare Beer X will be available; a slightly larger number of people who say ‘I really fancy a pint of Y’ or ‘something hoppy/dark/sour/strong’ and go where they think they might find it; but most people, most of the time, just fancy going out and only worry about the beer when they get there.

    We do occasionally check the Facebook pages for a couple of pubs we visit, and follow a couple of local beer geeks on Twitter, which is how we heard that one of our locals had started selling Belgian and American beer.

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