An artisanally crafted blog curated by Cooking Lager for discerning readers of beer bloggery

Monday, 8 February 2010

Cooking Lager History

I’ve never been one for sport either playing or watching, but sport offers a useful excuse when faced with a weekend of shopping and visiting people you really cannot be arsed with. Sport all too often tends to be a team game which is great if you need an outlet for your latent homosexuality, but to the rest of us appears a strange obsession. I quite like going to the gym to lift weights, but things that involve being part of a team are not really my bag.

This weekend saw the start of the 6 nations. A Northern Hemisphere international rugby tournament that the beeb have been good enough to put on the telly. Now I’m not that into rugby. Being a working class lad the sport of Rugby has always struck me as a bit of a posh boy’s game. Soccer or football to give it its proper name is more my game. But only more my game in so far as I understand the rules. I’m not that into it, I haven’t a team I follow. I gather my working class credentials would not be harmed by an interest in Rugby League but what is important about these sports is that however tedious they are they beat a trip round the shops. If you listen to the commentary you can often figure enough about the rules and jargon to give the appearance of knowing something about it.

Hence my earnest claim to love the game of rugby and consider watching it to be vital. This outrageous lie allows me to sit on the couch all afternoon and neck a few louts. Glorious. Come on England!

Also this Sunday saw the American superbowl game on late at night and guess what? Yup I claimed it a vital game to watch and cracked open the lout. Now I do know a bit about the rules of this game. I once shared a house with 2 American girls who insisted on watching this, and as it involved staying up late and drinking beer I thought it culturally important to join them. I remember them getting some beers in and offering to share them with me whilst they explained the strange rules of the game. The beers they got in were Budweiser and a drink called Boston Beer, which was a dark nitro widget beer that Elliot Gould was advertising on the telly at the time. It’s since disappeared from the UK. It was a lot like Caffrey’s. Since then I’ve always made an effort to watch the superbowl and get some Bud’s in to watch it. Even if it wasn’t on special offer. I like the commentary and strange phrases like “fourth down”

In my efforts to buy some Bud I was distracted. Distracted by what appeared to be a French lager at 8 bottles for £3. But who can say they haven’t been distracted by a French floozy when on the lookout for some no nonsense American wholesomeness? The bud will have to wait. This beer seemed to me to not only be a lovely drop of cheap grog but sum up a piece of cooking lager history.

Cooking lager enthusiasm hasn’t always been easy. Back in the day supermarkets flogged grog at premium prices. Then the British consumer noticed they could bugger off to France and load up with Stella Artois for a fraction of the premium price it was sold at in England. Knee high to a grasshopper I joined the hoards with a ticket given out from a tabloid newspaper to fill a mate’s car up with cheap lout and return. Whilst having lunch in a bistro a French guy asked us why the English buy so much Stella, as it wasn’t as nice as other beers at the mammoth hypermarket. Oh how beers are marketed differently in the world. What deceit is rained upon us mere customers? I have none of it, by going cheap.

Here all grog was cheap and premium lager did not appear part of the consumer mindset. In the hypermarket I stocked up on Stella but got a few boxes of 33 export that the French guy recommended and a couple of boxes of the cheap own brand 5% lout at half the price of the already cheap Stella. After the successful raid on the French we returned to Blighty to discover that as gorgeous as the Stella was, the other cheap louts were just as nice. Before long British supermarkets had cottoned on to the pulling power of cheap lout and the philosophy of cooking lager enthusiasm was born. It was possible to neck as much delicious and refreshing lout as you could drink and pay only buttons for the privilege. A lifelong hobby, love and interest was born that engages the heart of millions of Brits. There in the Hypermarkets of France was born the hobby that stands at the pinnacle of beer enthusiasm, not a desire to seek out nasty undrinkable high IBU beer, but a desire to buy lots and lots of cheap lout for next to nothing and neck the lot.

But is this a French floozy? RateBeer has it brewed by Lindenbrauerei Unna, BeerPal has it amusingly brewed by Meantime London? Who really cares? It is a little 25cl stubby of cheap lout with a French name. That’s French enough for me.

The French lager St Cervois represents all this deep history of cooking lager enthusiasm in every little 25cl bottle. Without beers like this I doubt there would be cooking lager aficionados gracing the beer world. This 4.8% crisp drop of heaven is all cooking lager is truly about. Necking cheap grog and belching. £3 for 8 at Sainsbury’s. To drink it is to drink the whole history of cheap lout appreciation, and become part of that history.

One day cooking lager enthusiasm will go full circle. The supermarkets will be prevented from selling me cheap grog, and cooking lager enthusiasm will return to its roots at the Hypermarkets of Calais. Until then I raise my glass in toast to our French cousins and their fine lout in thanks and appreciation.

As for the scores of any of these games I watched. Who cares? Though I did get the urge to try Bud Light Golden Wheat. I got to neck grog and not move from my lovely couch. It really ought to be on every week.


Melissa Cole said...

I too have a soft spot for the St Cervois 25cl stubbies, many a fun teenage BBQ was enlivened by multiple amounts of these crisp, near-tasteless (in a good way) refreshing beerlets!

Bet you weren't expecting that!!!

Cooking Lager said...

I am glad to hear it, and am unsurprised. I have long suspected many a pongy ale drinker has a secret affection for the lout but is afraid of ridicule if they express it. I see my role as a beer blogger to normalise lout appreciation and bring people proudly out of the closet.

I wish you many long and happy years of cooking lager appreciation. When next at a beer function/festival, surrounded by beards, feel no fear or shame saying "what I really fancy is a nice pint of ice cold fizzy lout. I've had enough of this pong. Anyone fancy a Stella?"

Sid Boggle said...

Cookie, you know some of that lout so seductively priced in discount supermarkets is actually very good quality beer, carefully dumbed-down to lure you in?

Some of that French hypermarket crap is actually pale gold, crisp and fruity Bier D'Alsace, while careful examination of Aldi's 4-pack of bottled lager reveals it is actually a crisp and refreshing Dortmunder Pilsner.

You're trying to hide from it, but pongy beer is finding you anyway. "Joooiin uuuusss", it sings. You will join the Dark Side, muahahahahaha!

Anonymous said...

I'm drinking St. Cervois now and you know what? It tastes the right side of decent and is about 80p a pint.

Great stuff!

BadvockJohn said...

Lovely to see that others share the enjoyment of a 'St Cervois'! Whilst cooking tonight, I finished my last stubby and had to resort to a bottle of my local Badger Beer to quench my thirst....wish they sold St Cervois in larger pack sizes though as I wouldn't get through them so quickly!