Sunday 7 March 2010

Converting lager drinkers

I've been doing a lot of pondering on this subject recently. It's been a while since I've had any missionary zeal but a few things have got me thinking about what sort of beer could win lager drinkers over to the ways of righteousness.

Not least of these is the fact a lager drinking friend of mine has taken his first tentative steps into the ways of righteousness. At the suggestion of the lovely Lisa he started on a Fuller's Discovery, a golden ale designed with winning over lager drinkers in mind. This could be called the stealth approach - making ales that look like lagers. Exmoor Gold was the first of the modern golden ales to do this. I can remember being shocked when I first saw something that yellow coming out of a handpump. It's a fine tasting beer though, but does the taste really appeal to lager drinkers? Golden ales have certainly  proved very popular but most are quite bitter, which residents of Jever aside, probably doesn't appeal to lager drinkers. I'm sure that most golden are drunk by people who normally drink ales anyway. Discovery  probably worked because Fuller's went a stage further with it by making it blond and bland. It didn't appeal to me but my lager drinking friend liked it. 

Wychwood have used what might be called the mocking approach, promoting their dark beer with "What's the matter lager boy, afraid you might taste something" adverts. Certainly they've had good sales growth but has it been from lager drinkers shamed into drinking ale by a goblin taking the piss out of them? I suspect the adverts, like the beer, mostly appeal to people already drinking real ale. 

I'm not convinced that either approach has much effect. My feeling is that most people who took the wrong steps early in life start turning to real ale once they reach a certain age or beard length and the effects of specially designed beers or advertising campaigns are pretty marginal. Though if anyone does have any tales of how lager drinkers have been converted I'm all ears.


  1. But you shouldn't assume lager drinkers are deluded dupes just waiting to be shown the light. I would suggest most of them know exactly what they're doing.

  2. I drink lager. Why do I need converting?

  3. I don't think I know many lager drinkers as it tends to be a bit of "birds of a feather", with my friends almost all cask drinkers.

    As for evangelising, that's fine, but like Mudgie I don't regard lager drinkers as deluded dupes, though nothing wrong with a bit of gentle persuasion from time to time. It usually works over a period of time as I found out when working, as that's when lager drinkers were encountered most in my company.

  4. I've had a lot of luck converting pongy ale drinkers to lout. Largly because it's lovely and cheap.

  5. I have never really bothered converting mass-produced lager drinkers to real ale or quality beers (including, lest we forget, solid lagers) as confirmed lager drinkers are not beer averse and - with very few exceptions - have tried real ale and simply decided they don't like it. Fair enough.

    A richer vein is converting those *to beer* who tried a Carlsberg or Fosters once and - on the basis of that experience - believe all beer is shite (I've found this weights most of my beer evangelism to women as blokes are generally socially expected to like a beer one way or another).

    In this case, I find sessionable golden ales totally useless - they look like mass produced lager and tend (even if hoppy) to be thin. Without fail, I go for a Rochefort 10 - balls-out-of-the-bath dark and boozy. Totally rejigs what the person thinks beer is.

    From that point, the drinker works backwards towards sessionable ales convinced beer isn't just industrial crap.

    To this end I agree with you, Ed, that golden ales seeking to convince lager drinkers and non-beer drinkers (usually marketed as for women) to cask/quality beer miss the point. The former aren't interested and the latter see beer akin to Fosters as yucky.

  6. I turned my brothers onto beer, from lager, with such gems as Harviestoun Scheihallion, Brain's SA, TT Landlord (bottled and draught) and Summer Lightning in particular. From there, a bit of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and - wham - both love craft beer now, bottled or cask. Sometimes it just takes a nudge. A lot of people don't drink 'good' beer simply because they don't know it - or what it will tatse like.

  7. Curmudgeon - thanks for the link, some well thought out stuff on the hobgoblin campaign there.

    The idea that lager drinkers will switch to ale drinking if they have an ale the same colour as lager placed in front of them also seems to be based on the assumption that lager drinkers are a bit dumb.

    I myself make no such assumptions, but nevertheless I cannot ignore the risks to the physical, mental and spiritual health of my lager drinking friends and the responsibility I have to lead them to the path of righteousness. Oh, and did I mention I make cask beer for a living? ;-)

    And thanks for the conversion tips gentlemen, more for me to ponder on.

  8. It's great sport teasing the odd lager drinker that happens to have strayed into your group, but I also agree that lager drinkers are not really deluded dupes.

    If I was going to try to temp a lager drinker from the dark side I would ask them to close their eyes and try a mild.

  9. Funny you should say that but my lager drinking mate who liked drinking Discovery moved on to mild next!

  10. I'm a self confessed lager lout as well being a real ale fan, with a soft spot for gin and lemonade (yes, I'm a philistine!) and every beer in between. I don't quite 'get' the need to convert anyone to beer from lager, wine of fizzy pop. Each to their own.

    But in my humble opinion if these are three beers that's I've found can be quite good at doing just that:

    Hooky Bitter, chilled from the bottle
    Leeds Pale on tap
    A strong, dark Belgian, Rochefort 8 or 10 as jesusjohn says

  11. I wasn’t that bothered about ‘conversions’ as my main concern was looking after my own beer supply! But it’s been interesting seeing what my friend’s taken to drinking, and as I said I do now have a professional interest... There do seem to be a few options to try but I suspect that ‘gentle persuasion’ is the most important part.

  12. It's interesting seeing others reactions to the beers I drink. One friends can't touch anything weighted towards hops, but then again he also can't eat anything spicier than fish fingers and ketchup! On the other scale my dad seems to mumble the same 'it's awwwrright' whether it's imperial stout or a sour kriek!

  13. Personally I think there's a beer out there for everyone, because beer is so diverse. I have had huge success with friends of mine who wouldn't normally drink beer. Some of them lager drinks, some wine drinkers, spirit drinkers, a lot of them women.

    It's not a case of converting anyone but usually they end up preferring the beer to their usual drink, the problem then is finding a beer like the ones they like. These are hardly ever the lager like beers and usually something much darker and sweeter, certainly not hoppy ales. Sadly these are hardly ever available in mainstream bars.

    As already mentioned, I reckon a Rochefort could 'convert' anyone.