Let’s have a little talk about cars. For some reason when people talk about comparing beer to something they usually compare it to music, I’m guessing that’s because most people know a bit about music. I don’t though. My “favourite music” as a teenager was whatever was playing late at night on the local radio station as I lay on bed in the dark with my headphones in. It was only later that I started to develop a taste in music, but usually it was down to the lyrics more than the melody. So whilst people may rhapsodise about Joe Strummer or Trent Raznor, or even Johnny Cash or Dolly Parton, I’m going to talk about cars. Because I know more about cars than I do about music. And I don’t really know much about cars either.

I do however know enough to make a few comparisons.

So let’s start with the session car. The 4.2% pale that allows you to drive all day. We’re looking at a 2 door hatchback that you drive around town to work or for the weekly shop. It’s nothing special, it does the job, it’s not expensive and you’re happy with it.

Similar to the session, there’s also the Bitter. These are your old classics, your Series Land Rover’s, your Morris Minors, they’ve been around for a long time, they’re generally looked after by enthusiasts, they’re reliable and you know what to expect. Unfortunately, just as with the Bitters there’s a lot of really bad examples out there that haven’t been looked after and are likely to leave a bad taste in the mouth once you’ve bought it.

Then there’s the low strength healthy electric cars. They’re new, everyone says you should be driving them, they’re better for you and for the planet, but they’re just not really that satisfying when you get down to it. They’re getting better, and you see ones that do excite you, but you’ve really only got access to the mass produced offerings.

When looking at the stronger beers, you might think you’re looking at the SUVs, the land rovers and similar, but really you’re looking at the van. Whether it’s a small van or a transit style van, these are your hefty cars (some people have vans as their cars, deal with it). They don’t go fast, they’re sturdy, they do what’s needed.

I initially thought that your Range Rovers, Humvees and the ilk were your pastry stouts. They’re big, they’re Instagram worthy, they’re also not very sensible. But I changed my mind and decided that instead your hot rods are your pastry stouts. They’re brash, they’re powerful, they’re kinda silly in a fun way. 

So where does that leave the SUVs? I had to have a bit of a think about this. They’re far bigger than they need to be, they’re everywhere in large numbers, and nobody really likes them but they do sell a lot. Yeah, it’s the Macro Craft.

Sour beers, they’re the sales rep company car. Sleek, flash, showy, but hated by the vast majority of people. There’s nothing actually wrong with them, but the way that those who enthuse about them can really put you off. Although when you’re left alone to find one on your own, you can be a bit of a convert.

Sours are totally different from the mixed fermentation beers, those are your kit cars. Hand crafted by the serious enthusiasts with possibly the most care and attention of any car and producing something that’s stylish, in a way, and drooled over by those “in the know”. But, well not everyone’s cup of tea.

You’re modern IPA, DIPA, TIPA and the sort, these are your luxury cars. Hand crafted mahogany interiors with plush carpeting throughout. A computer system that doesn’t just give you directions, but also monitors the internal temperature, warms up the steering wheel as well as the seats, and has a voice programmed to be soothing and comforting. It’s the premium of the craft. Although it’s often seen as a “bit too much” when all you want is to just get from A to B.

What about lagers? I’m going to put those into Public Transport and taxis. Most of the time it gets you there, but you might not always like it and it used to be cheap. Busses are your low strength macro lager, most people use them and there isn’t really much loyalty to them. Trains are your higher strength macro lagers, not as many users but it does get you there quicker.

Sometimes though, those rare times, you get a nice saloon turn up when you order a taxi.

Now when it comes to mild I had to think about this. It’s generally seen as an old man’s drink, although a lot of younger folk like it. So it’s got to be the “Small Car”, the Mini, the Fiat 500, the Smart Car. The car bought by sensible people to just “make do”, none of that fancy nonsense. 

I have to mention shandies and radlers because this list wouldn’t be complete without the convertible. It’s everything you want from your drink, just better suited for hot summer days. 

And now on to sports cars. It was a toss up deciding if these were going to be high strength lagers or barely wines, and I decided that it’s actually both. A good, and I mean really good high strength lager can be drunk like a barley wine, Carlsberg Special Brew has a special place in my heart for this exact reason. And like sports cars, both these styles “get you there quick” are usually made for show, and some are far better than others. The Jaguar E-Type for example is the pinnacle of style, design, engineering and raw power. That’s definitely a barley wine, but possibly a bourbon barrel-aged one. There’s just something more to it, and it’s a lot harder to get hold of, and usually a lot more expensive if you can.

Which would then make American Muscle Cars the American Barley Wines. Pretty, sought after, full of umph, but impractical and don’t always age well.

Another beer that needs an individual car is Sierra Nevada Pale. It’s a classic, it defined a style, it’s got umph and it’s been copied (often badly) many times. That can’t be anything other than the Mark 1 Ford Escort. 

I suppose if we’re looking at individual beers we should also look at Bass. I thought this would be a hard one to pair as a car, it’s been around longer than folks think, it’s always talked about in hushed tones, but it’s now owned by a different manufacturer and is nothing like it used to be and is trading on past reputations. So that’s the Porsche 911.

You may have noticed that I haven’t gone into packaging or dispense. In the same way that I’ve not gone into diesel or petrol (although I have mentioned electric), or different engine sizes.  If we were to think along those lines, diesel is keg. It goes longer and is harder working. Which leads us to think that petrol is cask, lending itself nicely to 2* and 4*, and unleaded. Cans are bikes; easy to take everywhere.

The thing is though, not everyone wants the premium luxury 200mph sofa with an AI assistant. A lot of people just want to get around. To do their chores, take stuff to the tip, get the shopping, run some errands. You don’t always need pure luxury, sometimes you just want to get the job done. Whether that is the daily commute, or a pint in the pub afterwards.