How to add some hip to your hops

PETER YORK ON ADS; No 148: GREENE KING IPA
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The Independent Culture
Greene King IPA always struck me as a beer brand with a touch of the reals, a smell of the Camra's, a feeling of the Seventies. So what is it doing with Nick Hancock, the acceptable face of New Lad - ie a bit provincial, a bit college, a bit thirtysomething and doing rather well in the great thirtysomething comedy competition? Could it be that Greene King IPA (funny name, like a British hand-built car) has owners who feel the brand personality is not 100 per cent now?

Their answer seems to be first to mock beer-worship in an oblique way by making fun of its disciples (saying lighten up, GKIPA drinkers - cool out, smarten up, remove all facial hair, stop talking rot about beerology and putting off potential drinkers amongst the burgeoning readerships of Loaded, Maxim and suchlike), and then to associate the brand with clever Master Hancock. This means that you can take as given the utter wonderfulness of GKIPA, its hops from heaven, its handmade-by-David-Bellamy qualities, but then magic them into modest but credible hipness. The golden moment would then come when a second-generation modern person, flat-sharing in, say, Crouch End, says boldly, "I know it's very Seventies of me, but I think Greene King's excellent, it's the image that's all wrong".

To this end we see these people's peers, nice, middle-class, but reasonably cool people, in nice houses with a bit of mellow, a bit of character, engaged in pathological relationships with pouting pints. In one such a man shouts through the bathroom door at a girlfriend pint who's shut herself in a sulk; in another a similar man lies on a psychiatrist's couch in a pleasant room in what appears to be Belsize Park, confiding his inner turbulence to another pint. And then up pops our Nick in a bright Greene roundel.

"Great pint, but rubbish girlfriend," says Hancock; or, "as a head-doctor it's absolutely nowhere. It's made for drinking and nothing else." It's banking on a sleight of hand, a modest transmogrification. It might just work.

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