Apologies for using a crass marketing term but it's something that's been going on in the industry for a while and it's also something that I think gets to the point often discussed in beer blogs and on the Twitter hop-vine. There has been a move, particularly in the spirits category, towards more interesting drinks, ones with provenance, history, and (at least according to the sellers) flavour. I would suggest that 'Fancier Pints' and the burgeoning UK 'artisan' beer sector are far more a part of this than they are a product of campaigning from consumer groups such as Camra.
Take an example like Grey Goose vodka, as made by a Cognac Master Distiller, with water filtered through volcanic rock (and however much marketing blurb you'd like to insert here). All well and good and it's good as far as vodka goes - I tried it a few years ago courtesy of a rep from the parent company, Bacardi (hardly a small artisan company). The fact is that it sells far more as a statement than a flavour choice. It's a bit like the vodka version of a Ferrari, everyone knows it, everyone knows it's expensive, but it's arguably a cosmetic thing. Another example from closer to home (for me) is in the wine industry where (anecdotally*) some winemakers have seen a big upsurge in sales by considerably bumping up the prices.
The Campaign for Really Good Beer has been attacked by some for not knowing what it stands for. Firstly I would have thought the clue was in the name. I think part of the charm, and maybe even its raison d'etre is the very fact that it defines good beer by something as simple as whether the the person drinking it is enjoying it. Although I'd suggest part of the fun is to be able to describe the beer and argue its merits - and maybe even cut through some of the bullshit?
So educate your palate so you can trust it. Try new things but don't be fooled, because people in marketing never miss a trick, they're coming for your microbrew.
* Remarked upon by the guests at an Australian wine day this week.
...and the beer.
I also tried Anchor Porter recently, and I really enjoyed it. Not too intense a flavour despite its 5.6% abv.
Good creamy-brown head that stayed around, not too fizzy.
Bitter chocolate, mocha, touch of sweetness on the finish. What I like about it is while it has plenty of character, nothing is too dominant, and so it has a lovely balance. Moreish to the point of being dangerously drinkable.
£1.85 (355ml) from Beers of Europe