Sit in any pub, watch a group of blokes come in, shaven heads, footie shirts, bit of jewellery. And you know what’s coming. “Wot lagers you got on, mate?” “OK, two Stellas and three Carlings then.”
On a similar note, last week I was in a market town pub in the Welsh Marches at lunchtime. There was a good group of male regulars in, aged between maybe about 40 and 75, with some lively banter. The kind of classic pub atmosphere that seems to be rapidly disappearing. But, although the pub sold cask beer, every single one of them was drinking either Carling or Stowford Press cider.
It seems to have become a fact of life nowadays that the working classes drink keg beer. Even if they drink ale, it’s John Smith’s Extra Smooth. Cask is now a middle-class affectation. Around here, there is still a strong residual customer base of older drinkers for the cask products of the four local family brewers and Samuel Smith’s, but in general across the country the cask=middle class link very much holds true. Sometimes you can almost feel the locals thinking “wanker” when you walk into a strange pub, peer along the bar past the forest of T-bar taps and order a pint of cask by name.
How did that happen, when real ale used to be the working man’s pint, and keg beer was promoted as an aspirational drink?