So Christmas is nearing an end, thank goodness. I’d say it will be a relief to go back to work but it won’t of course. Unless you work in a pub and, by work, I mean act as their chief sampler (but suffer none of the ill health consequences of drinking all day, every day).
You know what it’s like when friends, relatives and loved ones cotton on to something you’re interested in, a theme if you like, just before Christmas. I had one of those years, in which every present I received from one side of my family was beer orientated. Which is terrific, obviously, don’t get me wrong. So I rather generously received the following:
As our Christmas day was spent in Oxford, most were Oxford orientated:
- A selection pack from Wychwood Brewery in Witney near Oxford
- 2 from the Shotover Brewing Company in Oxford
- 1 from Cumbrian Legedary Ales (not near Oxford obviously)
I also received, from Mrs BlueGiantBeer, a bottle of M&S Belgian Cherry Wheatbeer brewed by Brouwerij Huyghe (the home of Delerium Tremens) and, more importantly, a one day foundation course with the Beer Academy which looks rather excellent. I will report back after attending.
Anyway, we can’t talk about all my Christmas presents as that would be terribly dull. What we can discuss is an issue I’ve been considering lately that popped up when I was asked to “buy the beer, get some Becks or something”. Now I am not such a massive beer snob that I won’t happily drink some of the better continental lagers if that’s what’s on offer. But if I am buying beer for home consumption then I tend to prefer to take the same approach I would in a bar or pub, i.e. seek variety, obscurity and tastiness. But variety, obscurity and tastiness comes at a price as we have discussed several times already. So, do you spend £2.50 plus on a single bottle of beer for a guest who may have no interest in drinking it and would be happier with a f*ck-off big keg of Heineken at a fraction of the price.
Anyway, the conclusion I came to was to buy the keg and two of everything else. It would be rather presumptious and dictatorial to buy a load of expensive beer that may not be to everyone’s taste (see further comment on this below). That way people can have a staple they’re used to or try something different if it is their want. So, on top of the keg (which I imagine a number of the connosieur market will be sneering at), we drank:
- BrewDog 5am Saint – Part of the core range, amber ale but still delivering the hoppiness you’d expect from the canine scamps
- Greenwich Meantime London Pale Ale – Ace IPA made with loads of Kentish hops, right up my street
- Brooklyn Lager – Staple American amber lager style beer, good if you’re after something fairly non descript to keep you going
- Blue Moon Wheat Beer – I don’t know why I persist with this beer, I don’t like it, it’s far too orangey for me. Oh well.
All bought from Sainsbury’s it’s worth adding!!
The “buying beer for people” point extends to seasoned ale drinkers of course. On a journey to Ameoba Bar in Bristol last night, a lovely little place (you can probably tell by the name) that clearly has a passion for bottled craft beers, I was sent to the bar with the request of “I’ll have what you are having”. Having already opted for a Flying Dog Raging Bitch, a very nicely rounded Belgian style IPA coming in at a whacking 8.3%, I opted for something (I thought) was a little on the lighter side, a Bristol Beer Factory Southville Hop. Actually, it was a lot stronger than I was after (6.5%) but, in my opinion, the best thing I’ve tasted from a local brewer recently with an immensely bitter grapefruity aftertaste (due to it clearly being influenced by the US craft beer style).
My drinking companion, a regular ale drinker, did not feel quite the same way about it as I did. I believe the word “undrinkable” was used.
Just goes to show, you can’t please all the people all of the time.