Setting off into the great big black hole that is the internet, I had one clear aim in mind: I needed to sort out my confusion about food. This was a time for some serious research; this was a time for single-minded dedication to a specific outcome; this was no time to get distracted or waylaid.
Stay focussed, I thought to myself.
So is it any surprise that, some five minutes later, I found myself reading about the UK’s most beard-friendly pub? No, of course it’s not. That’s the way the internet works. You set out in search of something and, before you know it, you’re looking at photos of sad cats, or youtube videos of people dancing their way around the world.
But back to the beard-friendly pub…
The UK’s most beard-friendly pub is, so I read, the Jolly Butchers in Stoke Newington. This news came to me via the Beer, Burger and Beyond blog, and included the intriguing sentence “Criteria for the list included ‘a pub that welcomes the hirsute and often has a significant number of hirsute customers’, and that has ‘beard friendly beers’”. What, one wonders, is a ‘beard friendly beer’? This demanded more investigation.
Before I go much further, I must declare a beard bias. I am a beard-wearer and so this news was of interest to me. Have brewers been designing beers specifically for the bearded? How had I missed out on this incredible development? Or, was this a more prosaic statement; do they just mean a beer with not much froth on top, avoiding that tricky ‘oh no, I’ve got a top lip covered in beer foam again’ social faux pas?
The award was granted by the Beard Liberation Front, an ‘informal network of beard wearers’. The founder of the BLF, Keith Flett, runs his own blog and has confirmed the criteria, as well as the shortlist in a recent post. It didn’t, however, shed any further light on the ‘beard friendly beer’ phenomenon. So I had to dig a little deeper.
Another post on Keith’s blog explained that “beard friendly beers… [are] not just standard bitters and lagers but interesting IPAs, stouts and much else in cask, keg and bottle”. Which is both very encouraging, but also slightly disappointing. I wholeheartedly commend any pub that sells a wide selection of interesting beers and, no doubt, these will appeal to both the bearded and the glabrescent. However, it does put an end to the hope that there are beers out there that are brewed specifically with the bearded in mind.
Or does it?
What about the Weird Beard Brew Co? Surely they will have a pogonic attitude to brewing. Indeed, on their website they claim that they are “inspired by the American and burgeoning British craft beer movement, along with… epic beards, and the outstanding beer community in our hometown of London”. They go on to explain that this means that they “will not compromise on anything to bring the best flavours to the beer, whether it is the roasted specialty grains in a stout or the newest hops in an IPA. We create beers that push the boundaries of style, forcing the consumer to stop and think about the drink in front of them, to confront the misconceptions of what ale and beer should or can be, and who drinks it”. Which rather neatly ties in with the BLF’s “interesting beers” criterion, methinks.
Interesting beer, inspired by epic beards. And, no doubt, suitable for drinking by both the bearded and their friends. I should probably try to track some down. I wonder if they sell any in the Jolly Butchers?
And now that I have sated my curiosity about the beard-friendly beers, I should probably get back to the research I was meant to be doing. I must now remain utterly focussed.
Oh look! Here’s an article on bike-friendly pubs…