Women's glasses idea is a non starter

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Related tags: Beer, Pint glass, British beer & pub association

The hullabaloo over the return of Dr Who prompted me to go on a personal trip back in time last week. I heard a report on the radio that the British...

The hullabaloo over the return of Dr Who prompted me to go on a personal trip back in time last week. I heard a report on the radio that the British Beer & Pub Association was calling for beer to be served in special glasses in order to attract women to the joys of the amberliquid.

Stepping smartly inside my Tardis, I pressed the buttons on the console and, accompanied by echoing metallic music, found myself a decade or two earlier outside a pub in west London with Anne, the young lady of my acquaintance and passion.

We entered the pub and, stepping smartly up to the bar, I ordered two pints of bitter. The custodian of the beer pumps looked from me to my girl friend and then back to me. His face developed the sort of grimace reserved for someone who has broken wind in the Sistine Chapel.

"Two pints, sir?" he snarled. "Surely you mean a pint for yourself and a lady's glass for your companion?"

I wince when I recall how Anne told the publican in exquisite detail in which of his many orifices he could deposit his lady's glass. We turned on our heels, left the pub and headed for the nearest coffee shop where we were able to drink espressos from identical cups.

Back in the 21st century, it is my duty to inform my good friend Mark Hastings at the BBPA that his call for the return of ladies' glasses is likely to bring even greater ridicule on his head than it did to the hapless publican in the 1970s.

I would love to be a bar fly on the wall when Mark discusses the merits of such a move with Professor Germaine Greer. He would, as our Australian cousins say, be flat on his back in the outside dunny.

I appreciate the problem faced by the pub trade. Beer drinking is still seen as overwhelmingly a male preserve. Women are put off by the sight of foaming pint tankards of beer.

But we won't win them to the cause of beer drinking if we patronise them by offering them special glasses. The BBPA message is clear: "We know you're just a feeble woman without the head or the stomach for a real man's pint, so here's a little tumblerspecially designed for second-class citizens."

It's not only women who are not drinking beer. In case you haven't noticed, sales of beer are in decline. People of both sexes are consuming wine in preference to beer. And wine glasses are wonderfully and safely unisex.

We need to attract both men and women to beer. To do that, both brewers and pub owners have to make beer drinking more attractive, which means dumping the boring straight-sided glass and introducing elegant containers.

Last year I reported on Fuller's attempt to make its Extra Special Bitter more attractive. The beer is strong and sales were declining. Market research showed that many potential drinkers -- men and women -- thought drinking pints of ESB would render them drunk and incapable.

So Fuller's designed a new tulip-shaped glass that looked like an oversized half pint but which cunningly held a full pint. A glass full of ESB no longer looked daunting or overwhelming. It didn't shout: "This will make you drunk!"

The results were swift. Customers in Fuller's pubs liked the new glass and sales of this delicious beverage have shot up.

For further advice, pop over the Channel to Belgium. Thisis a country infatuated with beer. Every brew has its own special branded glass. It makes drinking even more of a pleasure as you sample the malty and hoppy delights of your beer in a container that pays it reverence and respect.

Look at the success enjoyed in Britain by the Belgian beers Hoegaarden and Leffe. They come in branded glasses and they are enormously successful. Hoegaarden in particular is popular with young women and comes in a chunky, easy-to-hold container.

I'm sorry to pour cold lager on Mark Hastings' little wheeze. But I have a new challenge for him with Dr Who in mind: design a beer glass suitable for a Dalek. Did I hear you say "exterminate", Mark?

Related topics: Equipment

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