Alt- has become a prefix like e- and i-, where you can stick it in front of any word and it instantly sounds more contemporary, more cool, more desirable.  Alt-lit.  Alt-rock.  Alt-comedy.  Alt-lifestyle.  Alt-fashion.  Alt-medicine.  Alt-culture.  Alt-right?  Okay, maybe there are exceptions.  In a low-attention-span world, the search for ‘alternatives’ is all-consuming.

I consider this thought whilst drinking a pint of alt-bier: as mental leaps go, it is not in the Bob Beamon category.  What I am drinking is Mondo Brewing Company’s London Altbier, to be strictly accurate.  4.8%ABV; good, dark colour; lighter and crisper than its looks would suggest.

500 mondo london altbier

Alt-bier does not conform to the model of other alt-genres, mainly because the alt- in alt-bier does not stand for ‘alternative’ but means ‘old’.  It is a German word, reflecting alt-bier’s traditional origins in Westphalia.

I take another deep draught; allow myself to descend into an increasingly darker realm, whilst essentially remaining fixed in the same place.  And perhaps this is the way with all counter-culture: every alt- remains irrevocably linked to the very thing that it is so desperate to kick against.  The apron strings of alt- are strong and inelastic like those of the most ferocious hausfrau.  The rebel is only ever a short step away from the conventions of the old.

Alternative and old: polar-opposites, or one and the same thing?

I take another long sup and find my glass is as empty as my thoughts.

Of course, it would be perfectly possible to create an alt-altbier, but when the original product is so quaffable, why bother?

© Beery Sue


Beery Sue is so alt-alt she’s positively conventional.

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