Lager than life
Why on earth would anybody want to write about lager? It’s nasty, fizzy, too cold and doesn’t taste of anything. It’s a summer drink, a drink for women and spotty youths, for ‘lager louts’ and hooligans. Lager is mass produced to the cheapest cost price and mass marketed by souless corporations competing for ‘throat share’ with other beverages that have either too much sugar or too little taste. Or both.
It also happens to be the most widespread and most commercially successful beer ever produced. So either they are doing something right, or the 80% of us that drink the stuff are doing something terribly wrong.
I don’t care if it wasn’t brewed in a Belgian bathtub. Welcome to my world.
But do you know what? This isn’t going to be one of those blogs that says lager is brilliant or lager is rubbish. Let’s get over all that now. We can all agree that lager is. What I’m looking at is how it got there, rather than what we do with it, or what it tastes like.
OK, I used to work for Carlsberg. Six years as a public relations consultant. I occasionally still do. Right, that’s the CAMRA lot gone. (Sorry Roger!)
While I was there I learned a lot about beer of all types. I met beer journalists and enthusiasts from around the world and their amazement at the fantastic architecture of the Carlsberg brewery and how good the beer can taste prompted me to learn more. Not surprisingly, I wrote a lot about beer at Carlsberg and kept on going when I left for a paint manufacturer (yes, there is a difference).
In 2007/8, I managed to combine this with my murky past as an economics graduate in a book called Creating Nordic Capitalism, in which I wax lyrical on the development of Carlsberg from a little national brewery into a global corporate giant. That experience opened my eyes to the fact that not that much has been written about the ‘how’ of lager. How did it get so popular, when so many people dislike it?
A chilly history
The history of lager is industrial history. Its about how modern production techniques – especially refrigeration – evolved and developed, and how lager triumphed thanks to unprecedented advertising and marketing spend.
Whether you like the taste or not, it’s an exciting story – and it is still going on. So that’s what I’m going to be writing about.
Andrew Arnold, May 2009