At the outset, let me say one thing. A discussion of manners that crosses international boundaries is a mine field. There is no reason that rules in Prague help with situations in California or have any meaning in Leeds. Yet, fools go where angels fear to tread so let's get into it. The Pub Curmudgeon posted the results of a poll he posted... the results of which he then took issue with:
Out of 80 poll respondents, 43 wouldn’t be prepared to let the likes of Carling, John Smith’s or Guinness pass their lips if caught at a party or function where there was no “decent” beer available. Sorry folks, but whatever the motivation, that comes across as a pretty snobby attitude to me. Scant sign of the “all beer is good” inclusiveness there.
There is something of a double negative at play so I have to make sure this is right but my read of that is if you are at a house or an establishment that does not have a class of beer that you consider worth your while, the small majority of those polled would refuse to have what was on offer. Comments at twenty-six and counting ensued as well as a range of Twitter activity largely in line with the polling results. Me? I was raised to eat and drink what was put before me, that it was not good manners to not clean my plate and that, you know, handsome is as handsome does. There were so many food fables in my upbringing that they could accommodate every situation and point of view. Even with that confusion, the discourse reminds me of a number of helpful hints:
♦ Fundamental to good food and drinks manners is that you do not turn up your nose. If you are presented with a range that is not up to your standards, you still participate. If there is Guinness, of course you accept it. You hold it. You place it one a table near you. You take the odd drink. It becomes you buffer guarding you against another of its kind. You will live. Eat your greens.
♦ Next, you do not show up those helping. In the recently published Let me Tell You About Beer, well reviewed at Simon's, I was faced with the shocking comment on page 32: "[a]ny pub that baulks at giving tasters of the draught beer is not to be trusted." Oh my. Faced with a range of unknown taps in a bar, good manners roll the dice, guess a likely candidate, take the glass and only then perhaps ask for samples once you have engaged in the drinking contract with the establishment. Holding up the staff or other drinkers places everyone in a special level of purgatory. Get on with it.
♦ Don't flaunt. In a new favorite The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, the great Montreal restauranteurs give a great recommendation about their highest priced wines. They would "rather see you for a great meal and a decent bottle." While it is fun to go to a place like Portland, Maine's Novare Res and empty the wallet... please take a friend and treat. Treating is the opposite of flaunting. If you need to air your views of the drinks, earn your keep, share the wealth - or shut it or leave.
For me the bottom line is that unless your uncle owns the place - and probably especially if he does - you are a guest in any public house at any price point. You join in the spirit of the place or you leave. Handled badly, your beer knowledge and your beer money may be the vacuum that hoovers up all joy around you. All great bores are the same in this respect. Others I respect disagree. You may be among them. That is fine and it is your right. But let me point out one thing I saw in that poll that is being missed: "...you are at a party..." There is nothing worse than an ill mannered ungrateful guest. And when you are not at your own home, to one degree or another, you are a guest.