8 November 2021

Myth buster: Lager is for Louts

This month we look at the stereotype of the lager lout and consider if it’s a myth that still needs to be busted.

 The lager lout stereotype is decades old, but has the cool, effervescent, golden brew  finally managed to shake off its unwanted shadow? We’re not sure – but we’re going to speak up for lager anyway.

It was back in the 1980s when the idea of the lager lout was born. It was tied up with real incidents of mass drunken behaviour and brawls, in the sort of places you wouldn’t expect, like villages and market towns, as well as at football matches. In short, lager had a bad name as the fuel of loutish behaviour. Some say the image was created from a misguided moral panic and then perpetuated by newspapers to boost sales. Others will tell you it was firmly rooted in violence at and around football matches and will also point you in the direction of various court reports where the consumption of lager was repeatedly offered as a mitigating circumstance for the sort of behaviour which had landed someone in court. Whatever the truth, there’s no denying it gave lager something of a bad reputation.

Mention the lager lout today though and you’ll get a mixed response – suggesting the image is fading. Those of a certain age may tell you it puts them in mind of ‘a man in a football shirt who has over indulged’ or of people getting ‘tanked up and starting a row at closing time’. Yet when you mention it to someone in their twenties you’ll frequently get a baffled look. “Is it a type of beer glass?” asked one.

Has lager’s bad image sobered up then? Well, it might be a bit soon to put the buntings out. While there’s hope of the lager lout being forgotten, the lager-fuelled football fan causing trouble in the pub hasn’t quite been consigned to history. So, the question remains, does lager always have to mean lairy?

Fortunately the answer is ‘no’. The image of lager in the UK has been lifted by the number of traditional ale breweries which have made the decision to add one to their range. ‘British lager’, in the form of global brands contract brewed in the UK (and the odd mass market effort of our own), may have been with us for some time – but the new era of British lager is somewhat different. It’s firmly in the camp of responsibly enjoying a well-made beer, rather than chugging something cold and fizzy without caring what it is. Craft lager, if you will.

Who brews these craft lagers? Everyone from the forerunners of the British lager trend, such as Freedom Brewery and the Cotswold Brewing Company; on to Harviestoun’s Schiehallion and many other Scottish lagers (the soft water north of the border is ideal for lager brewing); through to St Austell’s Korev and Shepherd Neame’s Whitstable Bay and right up to the much more recently launched Gadds’ East Kent Pilsner. All of which prove there’s now a raft of quality, homegrown lagers that are about as far from the lout image as you can get. The famous names of global lager have been just as keen to shake off the lout, with Peroni – which emphasises its Italian roots and style – hailed by many as making the best job of it.

Brewers and drinkers seem to agree you can have lager without the lout. How can pubs do the same? Responsible retailing is the simple, but not always straightforward, answer. How lager is stored, poured and presented is something much more within your control. Perfectly served lager, with the right amount of fizz, a beautiful head and not a drop spilled over the side surely has the power to make the drinker want to savour it. Beer pouring issues, such as fobbing or flat pints, or peculiar ‘off flavours’ on the other hand can suggest the drink being served isn’t worthwhile.

Our mission at Avani Solutions is to support our clients so that every pint served is perfect. So, if you need to solve lager dispense issues contact us, because we’re all too aware how much money you can lose when dispense isn’t quite right. We can help you banish the shadow of the lager lout.

The Avani Solutions’ guide to perfectly served lager

Here are our suggestions for making lager more luxury than lout:

  1. Use the correct glassware and make sure it’s scrupulously clean. (See our article on ‘bubbles in the wrong place’ for more on this.)
  2. If a brewery makes specialised glassware for its lager, perhaps with nucleation aimed at making sure head, flavour and aroma are as fresh at the end of the glass as they are at the first, always use them.
  3. In the absence of brand-specific glassware, remember that lagers based on the pilsner style, as most standard lager is, are best served in a tall, slender glass.
  4. Don’t be afraid to treat lager like a luxury drink, including making a feature of it with beer and food matching. Try pairing it with light fish or seafood dishes. Malty lagers can work well with sandwiches.
  5. Remember there are many types of lager beyond the cool, yellow and fizzy standard. Researching styles and perhaps even holding a lager-themed beer festival could help make your lager offer into something out of the ordinary.
  6. Keep ahead of the game on dispense with an efficient line cleaning programme and best practice cellar procedures. Avani Solutions ProClean and ProClean+ are perfect for pubs and bars that are serious about lager.

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