How To Be A Reluctant Scooper

Every now and again, I'm asked by some drunken fop just exactly what the hell a 'reluctant scooper' is. Perhaps it's time for a refresher. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.

Many beer lovers like to sample brews in different styles from different breweries. Some of them actively seek out new brews. If both a new brew and an old favourite are on the bar, some will choose to drink the former. They may record the name of the brewer, the name of the beer and its strength into a notebook. They may keep track of all the beers they've sampled.

These people are scoopers. Or tickers - literally, 'ticking off' beers from a hit-list. Some of them have beards. Some of them have breasts. Some of them have both. Some of them are as barmy as a box of frogs. Some of them are knowledgeable, humourous, generous, hilarious. All of them are driven by beer to some extent.

I used to be a full-on scooper. I'd try any beer that I hadn't tried before. I wrote all their names down, kept a tally for the running total, kept a spreadsheet on a PDA so I knew what I'd already had and even started recording the details onto

And then I had a moment of clarity. That, for me, beer wasn't about the numbers. Because having just drank ten boring brown bitters in a row just because the brewers were new to me, then realising they all tasted roughly the same as the first and the first wasn't that good, I decided there was must be more to beer than this.

So I changed. If I tried a new beer and found I liked it, I'd buy more of it. Even if that meant I wouldn't get to try other new beers from new breweries. Then if I walked into a pub or festival and was given the choice of a new brew or an old favourite, I'd often find myself choosing the latter. It started to take something special to tempt me into trying something new.

I'd become a Reluctant Scooper.

Now, the smart cookies amongst you will have spotted the Catch-22 here. If I don't try new beers, how do I find the ones that become my new favourites? Well... I do try new beers and new brewers, often on recommendation from other topers. But it has to be something that's got a good reputation to sway me away from a pint of what I love.

And the proof of Reluctant Scooping is in the, er, scooping. So starting tomorrow, I'll be reporting back regularly on my trials and tribulations in scooping cities across the Midlands and beyond.

Two rules will apply to each trip: visit a maximum of four pubs/bars; drink either two halves of new beer or one pint of 'old favourite' beer in each.

Starting tomorrow. In the Holy City, through the Valley of Beer: Sheffield.

1 comment:

  1. I would call myself a scooper, I write notes on new beers I've tried and enjoy it. I don't, however, activly seek out new beers as a form of 'how many kinds have you drunk?' I write about beers as a form of reminiscing for a later date. It's always fun to look back on notes and think 'oh yeah that beer was great.'