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Are we too busy rediscovering the past to think about the future when it comes to beer (I use the word beer rather than brewing, as invention and newness seem to be exceptionally snug bedfellows when it comes to brewing but rather more uncomfortable, though occasionally compliant, when it comes to beer)? Or is the future of beer (I don’t mean sales, marketing, drinking, pubs etc but the actual liquid in the glass) a course setting sail for that glorious place, Novelty Island. As those with the nose for burying it within dusty parchments of former brewing logs seem to have discovered (here and here), there seems to be nothing new under the sun, whether it’s imperial this or blending and aging that: all seem to have been done at one time or the other. Brewers are remembering the past and as I have written before this is fantastic, but it does seem that when novelty knocks on the vast door in the massive house that beer and all its family members do dwell what do we see — beer as clear as gin but as foul as the water in the fish pond in my back garden, though this grimy pool of fish faeces flavoured water doesn’t seem to put off the dogs when they develop a thirst (and they don’t even have the excuse of being bedazzled by canny marketing); or there might be beer infused with the sort of faux fruity confectionery that only children can really enjoy and make the dentist weep. Sometimes a new beer is a new beer by virtue of its new name, rather than anything else. That doesn’t make it a bad beer though: there are many versions of English bitter that I will drink and enjoy. On the other hand, you could say that a beer containing, for argument’s sake, sorghum, wheat, rye, raspberries, Goldings and Hallertau, saison yeast and Burtonised water was a new thing even if it sent your palate straight in a handcart to hell.

All this musing and contemplating the navel comes from thinking about lager and then thinking about the future for lager. Steady as she goes — bock, helles, dunkel, svelty lezak, North German, American, British craft, Pils, dry hopping, different hops and so on — with quality as the keyword? Or upwards and onwards towards a high tower of idiocy — how about a lager and cola mix? Or something that’s been infused with lemongrass and whatever else the brewer can find in his cupboard and make the money guys happy. Pass me the sick bucket is my reaction, but then if it works does it matter? Would you have a lager and cola mix after a pretty intense game of squash? Even though your inner beer guy is screaming like that poor fella in the Edvard Munch picture. And even if you succumbed would you then feel part of the future? Or would it be a case of selective memory — as soon as you had quenched your thirst, this moment of madness would become an unperson and an unmemory. Maybe the future of beer (the beer itself, not the ads, the marketing, the guff and the stuff, but just the beer) is best left alone.