back to article Brewer bashes Beeb over anti-beer bias

A Cumbria brewer has levelled serious charges against the BBC that it is deliberately ignoring beer in favour of imported plonk. Dave Bailey, of the Hardknott brewery in Millom, reckons the Corporation's foodie output is heavily biased towards wine, and is therefore "deliberately and recklessly damaging the UK economy by its …


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  1. Real Ale is Best
    Thumb Up


    There is a huge bias against Real Ale drinkers in this country! Whenever there is a story about binge drinking on the BBC (and other media) it is invariably accompanied by a picture of a pint by a hand pump.

    It is the cheap wine, alcopops and vodka from supermarkets that fuels the binge drinking culture in this country, not the more expensive quality Real Ale sold in pubs!

    The craft breweries producing unique quality beers in this country deserve far more support than the BBC and the government supplies.

    1. Suburban Inmate

      A former alcoholic writes... (4 weeks dry and counting)

      The "special" and "super" strength lagers are the best value in terms of alcohol units per pound.

      A bottle of cheap plonk 750ml: £2.50 @ 12% ABV.

      Super stength lager 500ml: £1 @ 9% ABV.

      I must stress that I am in no way likening gut rotting tramp piss like Kestrel Super to proper skillfully brewed Real Ale!

      Icon: unreal ale.

      1. T.a.f.T.


        Better known as Frosty Jack is the best thing we found while I was at Uni; big old blue cider bottle at about 9% and less than £2 a litre :-D

        Slight problem in that it was like drinking fizzy apple juice so you quite often finished a bottle before realising you could not feel your face; happy times :-)

        <- bit of a hangover the next day

  2. Code Monkey

    Spare us

    I like "proper" ale but the thought of watching people's opinions about it on the telly would be enough to, um, drive me to drink.

  3. James Hughes 1



  4. Captain Underpants

    Interesting point, actually

    Any time I've seen Saturday Kitchen it's that rosy-cheeked public schoolboy goit going mental in the Wine section choosing something that costs less than a tenner. Frankly, at that kind of money I'd rather a decent ale or beer.

    If they *really* need someone to explain to them how beer works well with food and won't trust any of their local lot, I'm sure there are folks in Belgium and Germany who'll be happy to have a word...

    1. Dave Bell

      Remember James May and Oz Clarke...

      They did a BBC series on British booze, including beer.

      Then again, I wouldn't have called it a foodie programme.

    2. Shaun 1

      Neil Morrisey

      When he was on they went through the whole wine selection thing, but he didn't bother with the wine and had a pint with his food

      1. IanPotter

        RE: Neil Morrisey

        Yes, of his own beer. Talk about product placement...

        1. Mr Larrington


          As the poet[1] sang, Neil Morrisey's a knobhead.

          1 - Half Man Half Biscuit's Nigel Blackwell, in "Bottleneck At Capel Curig", in case you're wondering...

          1. Just Thinking

            @ Mr Larrington

            F*cking 'ell, its Fred Titmus!

    3. Dapprman

      @ Interesting Point

      Neither of the countries you mention has a reputation for good food or good food sense (and yes I am aware that around 3 or 4 of the world's top 50 restaurants are in Germany).

      Lets be very honest here, most people when going out to a fancy restaurant think of wine not beer to accompany their meal. Add to this the fact that much of the dishes cooked in the show are Italian, French, or Spanish in style/origins and once more wine is the correct accompaniment.

      1. Captain Underpants
        Thumb Down

        @ Dapperman - there's a saying about what not to do when you're in a glass house

        I can assure that having lived in Spain for 20 years, beer with food is very common over there. So far all that Captain Public Schoolboy likes to gush about the Cheeky Flavours and Hints Of Cheese in whatever bottle of £5-a-go plonk he's grabbed off the shelf in Sainsbury's, the more likely case is that the Spaniards or Italians making the food in question would settle down with a bottle or glass of Estrella, Cruzcampo, San Miguel or Aguila.

        As for Germany & Belgium, my point was that if you're going to dismiss food with beer perhaps a bit more knowledge of how the two can be combined (taking as an example the Belgians, inventors of the potato chip as well as brewers of many fine beers) would be a good idea in order to not be roundly ridiculed by those with more knowledge on the subject. Especially when we're talking about a country whose major^Wonly contributions to the culinary world have consisted of half-inching recipes and food preparation techniques during its empire-building antics way back when.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          @Captain Underpants

          >I can assure that having lived in Spain for 20 years, beer with food is very common over there.

          I suggest you try mixing with the locals then as what you wrote is complete twaddle. In general Spaniards will have a beer accompanied by a tapas. However, when they sit down to a proper meal the drink of choice is wine. Every lunch I've had here, there has been a bottle of wine on the table by default and on the occasions it's been emptied another took it's place at no extra charge.

          Oh, and as you think it's some sort of qualification I can match your 20 years and add some.

          1. Captain Underpants


            Unless tapas magically don't count as food or Spaniards don't at least sometimes go for tapas instead of traditional meals, I'm not sure what your argument is.

            Perhaps a better way of putting it would be that wine doesn't have a monopoly as the beverage consumed with food. Either way, the notion that mediterraneans only have wine with grub is patently bollocks.

            1. Anonymous Coward


              Tapas are an accompaniment to drink, they are usually salty to increase your thirst. Wine is an accompaniment to a meal. Please note the difference between meal and food, tapas are indeed a foodstuff but I would hardly call them a meal. However, it seems that some arty types are using tapas as a meal and Spaniards, in general, being image conscious are picking up on the fad to be seen to be doing the right thing but I don't see it lasting. To claim mediterraneans only have wine with meals would clearly be preposterous as you so elegantly put it, I merely pointed out that "the more likely case" is they would have a beer with a meal is equally preposterous.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Both have good food and are known for it too. German coffee, on the other hand, is rubbish. Actually, most European countries, even UK, can lay on a good spread if you get outside the tourist hotspots and Americanised fast-food.

        But back to the theme: British beers can be excellent, the average is rather mediocre.

    4. Joefish

      What is the malted liquor,

      What gets you drunker quicker,

      What comes in bottles or in cans?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But what about everything else?

    Who cares about beer? What about all those people who enjoy a Smirnoff Ice (other alcopops are available), or a quality cider? Or maybe we're now biased against the thriving community of absinthe drinkers - a sip after every meal?

    Come on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Too right

      Drinks should be made with apple or pear juice, fermented but not to a particularly high level of alcohol.

      Sadly, over here in the Merkinland the question is not which hard* cider, but do they even have hard* cider? Fortunately although hard* cider isn't a popular drink there are good hard* ciders available. My last vacation to the UK was very enjoyable and I believe I had hard* cider every day. I had to put up with Strongbow a couple of times, but the precious pint of Stowford Press made up for it.

      * Cider is non-clarified or even unpasteurized apple juice. Hard cider is the alcoholic variety.

      1. mamsey


        'Old Rosie' get a look in?

        1. Suburban Inmate


          Yeah cheers for that! Up came fragmented memories from over a decade ago.... *shudder*

          Ah well such is life ;-)

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Hmmm beer!!!

    I want more!

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke



  7. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    EastEnders no longer centred around a pub then?

    Gone all posh? I'd have to be physically restrained to watch it, so I wouldn't know.

    But I think the Beeb has a hand in digital channel Dave, and the making of The Pub Landlord's latest pub game frozen-chicken prize show, [Compete for the Meat]. Does he still insist that wine is for the ladies and the ladies are for wine? Surely. Does beer appear? Very much so.

    Also, BBC-made [QI] went past on Dave again where Alan Davies et al vividly described the technique, hyperbolically credited to the ancient Romans, of the Tactical Chunder.

    There's sod all to say about beer though, that's the problem. You drink it, you piss it out, they collect it and serve it to someone else.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Dear Robert Carnegie

      There are over 10 million different types of beer in the world, and only two sorts of wine (Red and white - Rose is just red and white mixed together).

      There is LOTS more to say about beer.

    2. Bassey

      Re: EastEnders no longer centred around a pub then?

      You appear to be mistaking larger with beer. Larger is fizzy, expensive piss drunk by students and Southerners. Bitter covers an enormous range of beautiful beverages beloved of bearded boffins and old men with flat caps and whippets.

    3. Captain Underpants
      Thumb Down

      I, er, think you've missed the point.

      You, er, seem to have missed the point being made, though - which is that beer is not just something Glugged At The Pub By Those Seeking A State Of Arsed-Rattedness. It's perfectly possible to enjoy a beer or two with a meal, or even to use it when cooking food (and if you think otherwise, I challenge you to sample food from the likes of Belgos - - and then repeat the claim).

      I'm not particularly keen on red wine and would much rather have a beer with food than wine. However, there's a marked tendency on cookery shows to play this down and bang on about throwing cheapy wines around instead, which doesn't really do anyone any favours. I'd much rather hear about interesting dessert ideas using Young's Chocolate Stout or Banana Bread Beer than I am about things I can do with a £7 bottle of red wine that I'd have to be paid to drink.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Honest answer is, I just don't like alcohol.

        It makes me physically and socially clumsy, and I already am so what's the point?

        I hardly ever wake up and gradually remember something appalling that happened because I was sober. So, bonus.

        Keith Floyd used wine when cooking food, the result was highly variable.

        1. Cameron Colley

          I think you missed the point here, Robert.

          Unless you are alergic to, or intollerant to, alcohol then you could hapily drink a decent, lower-alcohol beer* and enjoy it without any after-effects.

          The fact you mention the morning after confuses me somewhat though -- why on earth did you try to get drunk when you knew your body had problems with alcohol and, also, what does that have to do with having a pint, or a half, with a meal?

          *by this I mean a beer which has a lowwr alcohol content as a consequence of the brewing method, rather than a lager which was messed around with to remove some of the alcohol.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            You misconstrue.

            The concept I am referring to, and it appears that you may have to read this with particular care to get it, is not to drink any alcohol at all.

            Not... drink.

            All... day.

            Obviously an unfamiliar thought.

            Yes, I have tasted beer, and come away puzzled. As a gustatory experience, I don't see where "enjoy" comes into it. Perhaps one could develop a taste for it, nevertheless, but as a Scot (and yes, one bottle of our famous national product will probably kill you) I prefer pleasures that are less highly taxed - or not at all, such as cake (AIUI).

        2. Michael Dunn
          Thumb Up


          As an ardent fan of the Keith Floyd school of cookery, I usually cook with wine.

          Sometimes I even put some in the food.

      2. Artimus Sedgwicke



        I understand your sentiments.

        Larger? An imperial pint is larger than the typical serving where bar staff are encouraged to shortchange punters of the full 568ml in order to sell "72 pints", from a barrel or keg. Supposedly having a head on a pint excuses them from serving a full pint.

        Lager is bottom fermented, normally at lower temperatures than Ale which is top fermented.

        Is there good lager? Yes there is, though it's bloody rare as rocking horse droppings. Real lager can be really good. I brewed some a while back from a kit (now discontinued unfortunately) and a bag of spraymalt. It was fantastic! Better than any commercial lager I've ever tasted, including some really good real lagers.

        Chemical lager on the other hand, which makes up something astronomical like 99% of all lager consumed, is as you say "fizzy, expensive piss".

        "Southerners" is maybe a generalisation as lager brewing took off in Scotland after success at exporting IPA a very long time ago. Microbreweries have had an enormous impact in the South.

        Real Ale is the only growth area in brewing at the present time.

        (Yes, I have some Macc Lads CD's - "You are what you drink and I'm a bitter man")


    4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      "You drink it, you piss it out, they collect it and serve it to someone else"

      I think you're confusing proper beer with that fizzy cold stuff that appears to have almost displaced ale in too many pubs.

      Funny, the taste of lager when warm and flat, together with it's colour does remind me of something along the lines of your comment!

    5. Cameron Colley


      "There's sod all to say about beer though, that's the problem. You drink it, you piss it out, they collect it and serve it to someone else."

      The same could be said of anything one drinks, so does that mean no drinks should ever be talked about?

      If you're insinuating that beer has no variation from pint to pint you're either being deliberately ignorant or you have no taste buds. Heck, it could easily be argued that there's more variation in beer than there is in wine, if one so wished.

  8. Jules75
    Thumb Down

    The one trouble with the BBC.

    I love the BBC. I think it's good value for money and it does some great programmes. However, my only gripe is that because of the way it is funded, everyone seems to think they have an opinion on how it should be run and what programms should be shown. Everyone and their dog, along with their beliefs believes they are either under reprsented or not represented at all. this is a classic example of this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Jules 75

      Ever heard the saying "he who pays the piper calls the tune"?

      If I am paying good money for something (effectively with no alternative choice) then I expect to be able to make my opinion known.

      I like the passive-aggressiveness of the statement "...and it does some great programmes" - you seem to be expressing your own opinion there (you clearly don't believe every programme is great) whilst chastising the rest of us for expressing ours.

  9. Annihilator

    Massive leap of logic

    "The BBC, in omitting beer from one of its prime time food programs is alienating beer drinkers from the healthy activity of moderate drinking whilst eating; therefore the BBC is being reckless with the nation's health"

    So Auntie is encouraging me to binge drink real ale? A strange leap there and not really following it myself.

    The difference between wine and ale is quite obvious. With wine you're looking to off-set cost vs quality. With ale, they're pretty much all the same price and you don't have to take a risk in order to try a new one. Spending £20+ on a bottle of plonk is a risk if it turns out to be nasty and may ruin your evening. £2 - £4 on an ale is hardly a risk, if it's crap you move on to another. Hell, even the worst bars will let you try before you buy with ale. You can usually find a decent brewery and stick with it if you're so inclined, knowing that they'll be of a similar quality, the same isn't necessarily true of wineries.

  10. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    There is beer and there is ... shhh lager

    IMHO, lager isn't proper beer.

    There I've said it.

    Only beer brewed with a bottom fermenting yeast is proper stuff.

    Mines a pint of Harvey's (Lewes) please.

    Now to wait for the incoming rocketry from the Fosters/Carling mob.

    1. Captain Underpants

      Yes but sort of

      I don't entirely disagree with you, but my view on lagers is based generally on pilsners. If you live for any amount of time somewhere warm and dryish like the south of Spain you'll have a chance to appreciate a decent & cool pilsner. I'm thinking things like Krombacher, Estrella, Cruzcampo & the like.

      Still plenty of scope for piss-poor efforts, but then I'm pretty sure I've had at least a couple of shoddy ales before.

    2. Santa from Exeter


      Bottom fermenting yeast is used to produce Lager and Pilsner, ITYM *top* fermenting yeast, which is an ale yeast.

      Icon is a little pale for my taste, I prefer porters and stouts.

    3. 4HiMarks

      Lager yeast *is* bottom fermenting

      As a homebrewer, I know the difference. Lager yeast is bottom fermenting, and typically requires cold temperatures (barely above freezing) and a long time to clear (a process know as lagering). Who has that kind of time? An ale can be ready to drink in two weeks or less from the time the wort is boiled, although aging longer can be beneficial, allowing the flavors to meld more completely.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      there is lager and there is ale

      they are very different beasts, each having it's pro's and cons.

      Neither of which should really be confused with the chilled, tasteless, piss they serve in most pubs under the name lager.

      also, unfortunately... most of the 'big name' stuff they serve as bitter is just as bad.

    5. Artimus Sedgwicke

      There is beer and there is ...

      @ Steve Davies 3

      Suprise! No, not from "the Fosters/Carling mob" but a real ale fanatic. (No beard),

      "IMHO, lager isn't proper beer."

      Hmm.. Depends what you mean by lager.

      A proper lager beer can be good. A chemical gassy, flavourless lager, with its many side effects is a triumph of marketing over substance and a particularly nasty substance at that.

      "Only beer brewed with a bottom fermenting yeast is proper stuff."

      Lager / lager-beer is bottom fermented

      "Mines a pint of Harvey's (Lewes) please."

      I believe that Harvey's, as an ale, is top fermented.


      1. Lamont Cranston

        Let's all have a go:

        Harvey's is a brewery, producing many, different beers, and thus not a ale in itself.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    did someone

    say beer?

  12. TRT Silver badge




    Mild. Damn southerners.

  13. WonkoTheSane

    I'll just leave this here...

  14. Mage Silver badge


    There is Red beer and Brown beer and Black Beer.

    Stouts and Porters.

    There is probably an appropriate alcoholic beverage involving barley and often hops for every meal. Not just fermented Grape juice. Coloured from palest gold to deep black via bronze, red, brown etc. Sweet, Dry or bitter. Fizzy and not very fizzy. With lots of head to almost none.

    I think the very strong beers are a mistake though. Better to distil the fermented malt (with no hops) and make some decent Irish or Scotch.

    Not that I object to wine, port, sherry, Brandy etc.

  15. Laughing Otter

    I think America would agree with Dave.

    You might be interested to know that all up and down the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington, and Vancouver BC) pairing beer with foods is a very serious business. Especially in Portland, where there are more microbreweries in the city than any other city in the world. We have Fred Eckhardt to thank for promoting beer and food pairings, amongst others.

    Many of the homebrewers I know here in Seattle (I'm one too) often will have discussions on what foods go best with different styles and tastes of beer. Occasionally we'll come across something like Pliny The Elder which doesn't and won't pair with anything.

    Now if we could only get rid of all those crap beer commercials (Bud, Coors, Miller, PBR, and anything else usable only in Fizzball games) we might actually get taken seriously...

    Oh, and mine's either a NWPA (Northwest IPA from Washington-grown ingredients) or a nice anything from Samuel Smith.

    Cheers to Dave Bailey!

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Rose a mix of red and white?

    I think not. The grapes are "red" skinned but "white" inside. You can make a white wine from them (chuck the "red" skins away straight after pressing), or red (skins stay throughout fermentation) or rose (macerate until it's as red as you want).

    It's a bit like saying that if you mix stout and lager you get bitter. Speaking of which, mine's a Pedigree.

    1. Real Ale is Best

      Not completely true.

      Rosé champagne, in particular, is (apart from a few exceptions) made by making a red still wine, a white still wine, and mixing them to the desired colour and taste. More yeast is then added, and its decanted into champagne bottles for secondary fermentation to take place.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Beer? Wine?

    I haven't drank in years. I haven't missed it. I have plenty of blackmail material from those incapable of going for a night out without downing at least 4 pints.

    Makes office life interesting if I'm feeling vindictive

  18. Andy 30

    @ Robert Carnegie

    Assuming you are starting off with a Real Ale, the correct saying is "You drink it, you piss it out, they collect it, carbonate it, call it Lager and serve it to someone else"

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