I’ve always believed that nobody in the world goes into a pub and orders a “pint of lager”, but on soaps people do this all of the time. Surely the next question that the publican would have is “which lager would you like? We have several on”. In soap operas I can sort of understand it because they don’t want to be mentioning a brand all of the time. But I don’t see why they don’t do what Coronation Street does and invent a brewery that way people can simply order the imaginary beer from that place and not sound really silly.
The only time that I had seen people do something similar was when they would order a lager top (a ridiculous drink in my opinion which is simply beer with lemonade in the top). I have been told by some people that it is very refreshing drink, which may be true but I can’t imagine it, personally I find lager a refreshing alternative to bitter on a Summers day so I can’t see how making it even sweeter and fizzier is going to help the poor drink. But I do understand why if you’re ordering a lager top you are effectively planning on ruining the taste of whatever beer you’re ordering so you may as well have the cheapest one that there is, hence “lager top”, although I have increasingly heard “Fosters top” being used which presumably is because the lemonade doesn’t have enough sugar in it.
On a slight aside, I can understand the lager top thing being refreshing really, I know that other people have different tastes than me – so that’s fine. The thing that annoys me about them is that certain people seem to think that putting a small amount of lemonade in the top of their beer renders them alcohol free. I mean it will reduce the alcohol level slightly but only by the inch of beer that they didn’t put in. This is a big annoyance for me, and for a time when I would ask people why they were drinking a lager top and they told me that it was because they were driving I’d suggest to them that they should simply have an inch less than a pint in their beer – but somehow they felt that the dilutive effects were much stronger than they possibly could be. I think that the entire practice probably came from another horrible invention the lime top. This came from the Mexican beer trend of having lime in the neck of your beer (a very good thing) and applying it to regular beer by putting an inch of lime cordial in your pint of beer (a very bad thing).
But back to the main point of not ordering a specific beer. A few weeks ago I actually saw somebody do just this. They said, “a pint of lager please”. And I almost spilled my pint! The waitress (for it was a pub with waitress service – oh yes) started reeling off names, he said, “whatever’s cheapest luv”. Which reminded me of an ordering I’d seen years and years before (this time somebody I knew) which went, “Which beer do you serve which has the most alcohol in it? I’ll have that one”. Which is sort of the same but hadn’t triggered the concept in my mind because they didn’t use the magic phrase “a pint of lager please”.
There is an element of this conversation which revolves around the idea of beer as a “getting drunk delivery system”. Some people in certain situations just want to get drunk. They don’t care how they do it. But I’m not sure that’s what’s going on here. Because in that case they’d know what they were doing and sit outside with a can of Special Brew. Here they know they are in a pub and they know they want a lager but they haven’t ever even bothered to learn what they like.
I wonder particularly if it is something about beverages which is the thing, or rather a thing that bugs me. Because it also bugs me when people say, “a tin of pop” or a “can of drink” surely you know what kind of drink you want. But on the other hand I will ask for a pack of crisps. Because sometimes you know you want a packet of crisps but you don’t know which ones you want.
I have always explained this discrepancy by simply referring to the sheer number of crisps available and the fact that in pubs while they might have all the beers out on display for you to read out their names, the crisps are often hidden away.
It probably shouldn’t annoy me, but it does. Because I want to believe that people drink beer because it’s a nice drink, not just to get pissed. And if they don’t even care which of the beers they are drinking then its certainly not going to help.