I went out last week. That might not sound comment-worthy, but I don't get out nearly as much as you might think. A double-handful of us went to the local Aagrah for curry and birthday celebrations. It was pretty decent, although I'm no expert - for all I know, it may be the Nando's of the Indian subcontinent, although I actually don't mind Nando's either.
The pre-dinner drink was a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, not at Aagrah, but across the road at a more hip bar. Did I want a glass? Actually no, I'll skip it - what the hell, I know what it tastes like, and it'll stay colder longer in the bottle. We go to Aagrah, and the person doing the ordering at the bar makes the "sorry, I dont think their beer selection is up to much" face - it's a face I see quite often. I find myself saying "Whatever - Cobra I guess".
The Cobra comes in big bottles, with a pint glass. We sit down, start drinking, chatting and catching up. The beer is totally incidental, but also paradoxically integral to what we're doing. Lager and curry, a cliché, but then we're not trying to prove anything. The table has gravitated to guys at one end, women at the other, but the only real difference is that the women are swearing less, and are drinking Cobra from wine glasses. It's not about the beer.
I end up eating Lahore machli - spiced fried fish - and fashioning myself a kebab for the main course - basically a double portion of seekh kebab, two chappatis and a bowl of special raita. I'm sat in a nice restaurant, with a tablecloth and a cloth napkin, eating kebabs and drinking lager. And it's totally brilliant.
Is it really necessary to live the craft beer cliché every time you fancy a beer? There are some things that I try not to compromise on, like free-range meat, for example, although ironically, I'm sure that the meat I ate that night was as industrially produced as the beer. But then the myth of free-range, organic food for everyone is just that - a myth, a pipedream, an ideal. As we see American breweries pulling out of not just the UK market, but even inter-state distribution deals, you have to ask yourself if the 'craft' beer market, although in rapid expansion at present, is actually going to become harder to access by virtue of its success.
But back to the point. I had a load of ordinary lager, a couple of kebabs, and the company of friends for a few hours, and it was the most fun night out I'd had in ages. Would it have been a better night if we'd had better beer to talk about?