I ordered a light ale and the young barman reached below the bar for a bottle, whisked off the top and slammed the beer down on the bar. Our eyes met. I could see him registering my age. “You want a glass?”
I certainly do, laddie, I thought, shuddering at the thought at putting my lips around the neck of that bottle. “Yes please,” I said.
It is certainly a generational thing because I do not see any silver surfers swigging from the neck of a bottle. Necking, I think they call it. That meant something completely different when I was younger. But it can’t just be me. Doesn’t anyone see the health risks?
That bottle comes from a crate stored in a cellar and even the cleanest cellar will have dirt and cobwebs and rats. And supposing a rat had taken a pee as it scurried over the crate? Once I asked a barmaid who had neglected to give me a glass if all the bottles were wiped before they were put on sale. She looked at me as if I were stupid and laughed. Obviously not.
I can’t remember when this practice of drinking from the bottle came into fashion but I can recall the first time I saw it. It was in the Globe Tavern in Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, in 1983. But you could forgive them because at that time the Falklands was pretty short of glassware. You can’t say that of the UK.
In any case, someone who drink straight from the bottle (or can) cannot know much about beer. The mere act of pouring the drink into a glass oxygenates the beer and allows the flavour to develop. But apart from this, swigging rather than sipping is ugly. It can’t just be me who thinks that, surely?