28 Dec 2012

Samuel Adams Noble Pils and Golden Pints 2012


The beer

Clean, archetypal pilsner colour – a good sign.

Minimal head. Yet appealing, lingering lacing.

















Samuel Adams Noble Pils smells like Boston Lager. Unexpected. Suggests that this is going to be on the sweet side.

The distinct Boston Lager flavour is there as a base, but where that beer can get a bit sticky and syrupy, this is light and crisp.

However, it lacks a little of the Saaz snap I would hope for in a beer like this, but I guess that could be blamed on the fact that it’s been imported from America via Sweden and has probably sat on a shelf for at least a couple of months.


The year in review






















Best UK Draught (Cask or Keg) Beer
The latest iteration of Camden Town Pale Ale. So fruity it tastes like E numbers.

Best UK Bottled or Canned Beer
Thornbridge Kipling. Ultimate showcase of Nelson Sauvin.

Best Overseas Draught Beer
Has to be the 3 Floyds Zombie Dust. Shivers run down my spine just thinking about it.

Best Overseas Bottled or Canned Beer
Just before I flew to Finland to play a gig last month (yes, you’re right, I am pretty cool). I had a can of Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA on the train to the airport. That was about as good as life gets.

Best Overall Beer
Again, has to be the 3 Floyds Zombie Dust.

Best Pumpclip or Label
Epic Brewing’s Exponetial Series. Muted, textured, subtle brilliance. Screams quality and sophistication.

Best UK Brewery
I tend not to write about them for reasons of impartiality, but it has to be Camden Town. I can’t think of anyone who has produced better in terms of quality, consistency and creativity in this country this year, particularly in the latter half.

Best Overseas Brewery
AleSmith – the far-too-infrequent opportunities I’ve had to pour their beer into my mouth have filled me with awe.

Pub/Bar of the Year
My new work local and haven is The Cleveland Arms. An absolute escape from the horrors of everyday existence. And they serve a great pint of Harvey’s Best.

Beer Festival of the Year
Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2012. Kinda gutted I haven’t sorted out 2013. Is it sold out? I’m out of the loop...

Supermarket of the Year
Thought it would be Waitrose, but their range seems to have contracted recently, so Sainsbury’s it is again.

Independent Retailer of the Year
Ølbutikken was probably the coolest place I bought beer from this year.

Best Beer Book or Magazine
Beer in the Beehive. Fascinating history about a really interesting place. One I am unlikely ever to visit again.

Best Beer Blog or Website
I’m struggling here. I’ve barely been able to maintain my own over the last couple of months, let alone read anyone else’s. Recommendations please!

And the winner of the 2011 Award for Best Beer and Life Match 2011 is...
La Trappe Isid’or and Ancient VVisdom @ Roadburn 2012. Stumbling across a great beer bar in a town I thought lacked one, combined with watching a great band do their thing, cannot be topped. As I said at the time. Cough.

Seems a long time ago now...


The match

I’m fairly ambivalent about this Sam Adams product, but it’s got enough going for it to help me gather my thoughts about 2012.

Last year I said this exercise was therapeutic.

It doesn’t feel quite like that this time around.

Good beer has undoubtedly got more popular over the course of the last 12 months. This is economically positive for the brewing industry.

Unfortunately, this has an unwelcome effect on quality.

It impacts the volume of quality beer on the market. As the size of the market opportunity increases, so does the number of advertising executives who think it is viable for them to have a go at brewing.

This result (in the UK anyway) in a load of shit ‘craft’ beer flooding the market, with retailers, few of whom have any fucking clue (though clearly there is a stand out few who do), stacking their shelves with ‘artisan, locally-brewed beer’ that tastes like ear wax.

This would not necessarily be a problem were it not compounded by the fact that as the market grows, it attracts people who lack any sort of quality control (in many aspects of their lives) and think everything is great, including any old liquidised turd in a bottle labelled ‘craft’, thereby creating an abhorrent, artificial pool of demand for this pish.

I’m pretty sure I feel exactly like Cobain did when the jocks started turning up at Nirvana shows.

In fact, if I hear another person stating that they are ‘passionate about craft beer’ I’ll be sending Dylan Carlson (who I actually spoke to face-to-face this year, yah, yah I did) off to get me a shotgun.

I know I sound like a prick. That’s because I am a bit of a one.

As is the way of things, I believe (hope) the market will naturally contract and only the truly dedicated will remain once the dead wood has fallen away.

But I think this state of affairs has impacted my enthusiasm for beer.

You’ll see my posts have tailed off towards the end of 2012, despite some absolutely incredible experiences in spring of this year that I feel should have been some kind of life-changing tipping point for me and beer.

Maybe I’m just burnt out because of the intensity of those experiences – I’m a habitual cultural locust you see, and consume my interests at an intense rate, leaving behind a desolate experiential wasteland once I’ve reached some kind of apex.

I also frequently feel like a complete fraud when it comes to beer: I don’t brew; therefore my opinion is of no consequence.

Ithink I am in a trough of disillusionment when it comes to the beer ‘scene’.

More likely, however, is that this feeling is due to me having a really fucking intense year that has made me feel like I have less time for self indulgence than ever before.

Poor little me.

Real life – i.e. work – has been brutal, with frequent periods of mind-melting stress and soul-destroying international business travel.

I got married. This is the best thing I have ever done without a shadow of a doubt.

The event itself involved a great deal of organisation though. Or so my wife tells me; I didn’t actually do a lot.

I have rekindled my relationship with music creation, as I now recognise how important this is to my mental health. Given I have so little free time these days, it’s inevitable that this would squeeze out other interests.

Etc etc. Really interesting for the three people that read this I’m sure.

Does all this mean I’m going to stop appreciating and writing about beer?

Nah, there’s too much great beer out there and experiences to be had for that to happen.

I guess ‘cathartic’, rather than ‘therapeutic’, is more appropriate this year.

14 Oct 2012

Mythos and Santorini


The beer

If you have ever visited, or happened to live in, Greece, I’d hazard a guess that you may have encountered Mythos.

















If you've ever described a beer’s colour as ‘straw’ and felt that people just weren’t getting it, I’d suggest keeping some Mythos in the house as a visual aid.

Or some straw.

In fact, if you do have some straw, throw it in the faces of the people you’re talking to.

This act of physical theatre, breaking down the barriers between audience and performer, will be a perfect representation of what it’s like to drink Mythos.

Hopefully, some will have got a bit of debris in their mouth to make the experience complete.

Slightly annoying, sort of refreshing.

What I'm trying to say is that Mythos definitely has something of the cereal crop about it in appearance, odour and taste.

Grainy, chewy, slightly sweet and a bit dry.


The place

Santorini is impractical for human habitation.

Essentially, the island is the crater edge of a civilisation-ending (allegedly – don’t want to get sued by geology) volcano.

A volcano that is still active.

From its highest heights, the island slopes down almost vertically before plunging into the deep oceanic lagoon formed by a cataclysmic eruption over 3000 years ago.

Most of the settlements on the island nestle precariously atop exposed ridges, snatching at the small pieces of land that allow for development perched high above the sea.

Maybe its height and position in the Aegean made it important, from a military and trade perspective, but I’d like to think there is another reason for Santorini’s early (and continued) residence: it is incredibly beautiful.

I use neither of those words lightly, but I may have slightly misused them.

It is what Santorini looks upon that makes it beautiful.

The sun, the ocean, the rock.

















Whoever it was that first washed up against the steep cliffs of Santorini must have ascended to the top and witnessed the golden dazzling orb dipping into the obsidian depths as I did night after night.

There is no practical inconvenience so great that it would make you leave this place.


The match

The holiday beer is not a new concept.

Among those who appreciate exceptional beer it reserves a special place in the heart.

Special because it transcends appearance, odour and taste.  It is almost inevitably not very good when measured against these criteria.

A bottle of Mythos to me represents glorious heat, relaxation and tranquillity. The effect of drinking it is almost meditative.

And so it was this time.

At first.

You see this holiday – which was in fact more than a holiday, it was my honeymoon (sorry ladies) – I had resolved to do nothing but relax, listen to music, eat and drink beer.

I'm quite a catch.

The first few glasses of Mythos did everything they were supposed to do.

A few days in, however, I was not entirely content.

Though I would have happily drunk Mythos till it seeped out of my ears (again, I'm quite a catch), I could not quite shake off the beer geek dwelling in the cave of my mind.

So when I discovered the beers of Santorini Brewing Company being sold not too far from my luxury abode, I felt complete.

It’s impossible for me to really critically appraise these local craft beers given the situation, but they were an absolute revelation to me at the time.

And even though it’s hard to separate the beer from how happy I was, the Crazy Donkey was definitely pretty cool.

In fact, here’s a photo to reiterate whatever point it is I'm trying to make.

















Weirdly, I was in Camden Town Brewery’s walk-in fridge this weekend and spotted Crazy Donkey and Red Donkey sitting on a shelf.

I'm assuming that this is the universe telling me something.

30 Sep 2012

Alesmith Wee Heavy and Loss’s Despond


The beer 

Wee Heavy is not about colour. Ignore how it looks.

















It smells like Heaney’s The Tollund Man.  All peat, bog and ancestry.

Beers that smell like this generally taste like the worst available whisky available to man.

Not this beer.

You wait for, anticipate the brutality, but it never comes.

Peat aromas are such an indicator of impending harshness that when sweet smoothness unfurls, complimented by subtle wood-chip chewiness, you feel at one with the trees, at one with the hills.

At one with everything that grows.

This is the beer that you want to tell the world about. To shake them until they listen.

There are no banal flavour specifics to go into here.

Articulate infinity. Define existence.

Language does not account for these things.


The album 

I don’t like to think about what music is.

I cannot comprehend how it evolved.

I am unable to explain what a profound effect it has on me. Sometimes it feels like all I am.

When I discover a band or artist that instantly forges a connection with my psyche, with my very being, it scares and delights me in equal measure.

Scares because I'm not sure where it will lead me, delights because it confirms that there is something more.

Loss’s Despond ticks all of those bizarre boxes.





















I don’t imagine for a minute this is an album for everyone.

The growled – not shouted, not screamed – vocals will turn off pretty much everyone not well versed in heavy music.

I would hope the enlightened few might persevere, because is the music I've been looking for for a while.

Funeral doom meets blues meets the void.

Ultra melodic, super harmonic, guitar-centred misery.


The match

Contrast is often used as a device in song writing.

Quiet / loud is the most obvious example to cite, but there are plenty of others, such as fast / slow or melodic / discordant.

Loss’s Despond is relentlessly miserable and slow. But there is a contrast at work to great effect: that of beauty and sadness.

In this case a fragile, delicate beauty and a vast, endless sadness.

These two words are not antonyms, but they are opposing sensations that should feel very different.

They are, however, entangled. It seems to me neither can exist outside the context of the other.

It seems natural to behold both at the very same moment. I believe it may be something to do with the human condition

There’s a fleeting line in American Splendor which tells me I'm not alone in thinking this:

“Life seemed so sweet and so sad...and so hard to let go of in the end.”

And, without wanting to force a point or belittle the concepts I've named here, so it is with beer in a way.

The never-ending, perpetually-doomed affair of the bitter and the sweet.

Folded-armed, refusing to look at one another one minute, a naked, swirling embrace of passion the next.

Sometimes one the more dominant, sometimes the other. Sometimes equals.

Contrasting and complementary all at the same time.

The essence of what great beer is and the defining quality that Wee Heavy has in bucket-loads.


9 Sep 2012

Abbaye des Rocs Blanche des Honnelles and GBBF 2012


The beer

I’ve never had a bad Abbaye des Rocs beer.

Never had one I didn’t want to finish. Never had one I wouldn’t have again.

For some reason, in the context of beer, that seems an important point.

But Blanche des Honnelles is the first of their beers that has inspired me to put finger to keyboard.

















Some beers interact with light in such a way that you can lose yourself in a spectrum of colours (okay, a spectrum of orangey browns).

This beer, however, has an impenetrable orange solidity.

One colour. Unchanging. Fuck light.

Have you ever frozen banana slices?

If not, you may not recognise the aroma this beer gives off.

Though you may recognise the whiff of booze, which is a bit odd given its 6% ABV.

I’m no wit connoisseur, but when a wit is right it refreshes the body, soul and mind in a way few other beers can.

This, this is right.

I’m not really sure how a beer can be ‘clean’, but there is no other word available in the English language that so succinctly describes the first time your mouth is introduced to Blanche des Honnelles.

If that was all there was, I’d be happy enough.

So when further complexity begins to emerge like a piece of paper unfolding for eternity my brain feels like it may pop.

Herbs and spices from every corner of the world wink at you from parallel universes as you are pulled into an infinite cosmic spiral.

Then something like blood – iron and raw meat – reminds you of your own physiology.

A hint of honey sweetness in the death throes calms the nerves and returns you to earth.


The event

The Great British Beer Festival took place a month ago.





















I am only writing about it now, its status as anything approaching a hot topic a distant memory for most.

I suggest there are two possible reasons for this delayed reaction: a) that I am lazy or b) that there has been so much other stuff going on in my life that I have been physically and psychologically unable to devote the time and mindspace to even contemplate writing about it since my attendance.

In reality, it’s a bit of both, but I would be more comfortable if you went with the latter.

Certainly a lack of time and escalating stress levels hampered my ability to really engage with the event.

I went on the Friday with a few vague acquaintances who don’t know I write this stuff and only attend the event to get blind drunk and shout.

However, if any of you blind drunk shouters happen to stumble across this, please don’t assume I think there’s anything wrong with that.

As soon as I enter I am struck by how much better Olympia is than Earls Court. Oooh, look! Sunlight!! Actual architectural character!!!

As soon as I enter I know I am not in the right place mentally to endure this for more than a couple of hours.


The match

I’m not sure why I didn’t connect with GBBF this year. I feel like a Grinch.

I just wasn’t that interested.

A load of bars serving mediocre beers from around the country.

A German/Czech bar that had run out of anything I was excited about.

A US bar serving high-strength, heavily-hopped IPAs out of casks.

I considered just ploughing through some bottles, but then realised I could actually just drink them at home without being surrounded by cunts in novelty hats and therefore have a much better time.

So I bought every Deschutes and Epic beer available and headed toward the exit.

I stopped off at the Belgian/Italian/Other bar to have one for the road. And I’m so glad I did.

Blanche des Honnelles cut through my disillusionment like a claymore to the neck.

I almost stayed.

Instead I just purchased a few bottles of Blanche des Honnelles and left.

27 Aug 2012

Heineken and the London 2012 Olympics


The beer

Do you remember when Heineken withdrew its lower-ABV ‘cold-filtered’ version from the UK and replaced it with the 5% version?





















I do, as I can remember thinking ‘finally, we can get as hammered as the mainland Europeans do on this shit’.

Which is a weird thing to think. If you think about it.

Anyway, I can remember banging a lot of it. Or can’t, if you catch my drift.

Drunk out of a plastic cup it tastes much as it always has: nondescript, but better than Stella, in the way that Shania Twain is ‘better’ than Celine Dion.

I’d still take it over the ‘Ale’ (shhh, it’s John Smith’s) that’s on offer here.


The event

I love all sport me – increasingly more as a spectator than a participant – so when the world’s grandest sporting event took place a few miles from my house, featuring a load of sports I never get to see because they’re obscure and weird, I got excited.

I went to the boxing on the first day. It was awesome.

I’ve found myself saying awesome quite a lot recently.

I think it’s a self-loathing thing. The more I say it without being truly awestruck, the more I hate myself, the more I chip away at the baggage of the ego and a misguided sense of self.

My seats for the water polo on the last day were so good I almost fell out of my chair and into the pool.

But the event that really captured my imagination was a preliminary round of the weightlifting.














The match

I had nothing to do on a Saturday.

Partner in crime otherwise engaged, brothers in arms called away on alternative missions.

So on the Friday night I relentlessly pursued the goal of a last minute Olympic ticket.

Despondency was the order of the evening, until, at the 11th hour, I secured the all important golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s yard.

Got to the ExCel around lunchtime. Drank a pint of Heineken. £4.60.

Bit bored. Have a sandwich. Drink a pint of Heineken.

More waiting. Have a pint of Heineken. And better get one to have in the arena.

Seats are good. I have the warm glow.

I witness an incredible two hours of human endeavour.

The crowd are unbelievably enthusiastic and support every single athlete in a way that utterly transcends the usual sectarianism in sport.

One dude, I think he may have been Finnish (proper sports journalism right here), fails his first two attempts at a clean and jerk lift that is way off the heaviest weight being lifted.

Even if he is successful, his Olympics ends here and now.

As he comes out for his third attempt the crowd roar louder than they have for the British athlete competing.

The arena is drenched in emotion. The noise lasts longer than it should. I can feel the force of gravity crushing me as chalked hands find their place on the bar.

The clean phase goes well.

The weight rests under the Scandinavian’s chin. I would love to delve into his mind at this point to understand the internal conversations.

Then without warning the snap into the jerk.

His knees look like they will buckle. His arms tremble uncontrollably.

The crowd draws a collective breath, then explodes as one.

The weightlifter straightens himself and stares into the middle distance.

Atlas taking his punishment in defiance of the gods.

Do I care that I’m drinking Heineken? Not really.

If you were expecting some commentary on the monopoly of sponsors and how awful it is that you could only drink Heineken at Olympic venues I’m really sorry.

Not really.

15 Jul 2012

De Struise Black Albert and Frank Ocean's Channel Orange


The beer

I should have sat on this longer.

But how many beers – if you understand the inherent risks of bottling beer – can really be kept for any period of time?

That there is my excuse for cracking this open nine months from purchase.


















The most striking thing about Black Albert’s appearance is its head: thin, so removed from white it’s almost red and the slightest hand-twitch introducing a quicksand lacing,

Port, brandy, Baileys – smells of something more alcoholic than beer. Though coffee too, to the extent I’m slightly confused about what time it is.

It’s definitely somewhere between 2am and 6am.

Burnt toast aromas don’t help.

I’m a bit fed up of applauding Belgian beers for hiding high alcohol volumes, but even relatively young, this beer buries 13% so deep it’s beyond comprehension.

Infinite pit.

There is no flavour spike. No brutal booze beatdown.

Just utter smoothness.

If you were to twist my arm to force specificity, I’d allude to toffee and vanilla, and yes, a burnt wine, brandy vibe.

I’d rather you didn’t get physical though. I’m pretty fucking chilled out right now.


The album

I’m an adult. A grown man.

I like RnB.

As in contemporary RnB.

As in Usher, Ne-Yo, Chris Brown et al.

Not in any kind of ironic white middle-class way. Just pure dig it.

I could write essays about the critical paradigm shifts in RnB since the mid 90s.

I could reveal to you the intricate subtleties of a single R Kelly song in a way that would melt your mind.

But I’ve always thirsted for RnB to do something more.

Always felt there was rich unexplored territory here, an opportunity to uncover something more about modern, urban life that wasn’t, well, so shiny and polished.

Usher’s Climax touched on it.

The Weeknd pretty much got there.

But this, this is something different.

Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape promised much – Novacane is in my eyes one of the best songs to emerge in any genre over the last five years – however it felt a little disjointed, but then I guess that’s why it was a mixtape.

Channel Orange is a different proposition.





















I’m not going to review it here, give you a potted history of Frank Ocean or otherwise do what a thousand music journos will do.

I will simply explain my reaction.

Sometimes I hear music that tonally and compositionally instantly connects with me.

I fear this music. I am suspicious of it.

Nothing should be that easy.

Usually, eventually, I come around to loving what my gut instinct told me I should.

Not with Channel Orange.

From the moment the strings kicked off Thinkin Bout You I knew this was it.

This is what I’d been waiting for. A thirst satiated. A hunger satisfied.

I keep getting stuck on moments on the album, but the nine-minute-plus pinnacle Pyramids expresses precisely what it is I love about this album – I have listened to it on loop for literally hours.

Particularly the section from 4.26 onwards.

Got my incredulous face on.


The match

This match is about potential.

And how satisfying it is when someone or something fulfils it.

Frank Ocean has not just fulfilled it, he’s surpassed it by light years.

What I love about what he’s done is the ambition that he’s expressed.

It’s gone beyond what I could conceive. This is a key moment in 21st century music for me.

When will beer’s key, paradigm-shifting, 21st century moment happen?

That same insatiable thirst I have for RnB to do something exceptional exists in my appreciation of beer.

I hear whispers on the wind that some people consider De Struise to have something of the The Emperor's New Clothes about them.

Those people have clearly never sampled Pannepot or Black Albert. And are idiots.

I knew Pannepot was good,

I had no idea Black Albert was so deserving of the beer geek hype that surrounds it.

It’s utterly, unashamedly incredible.

I could drink it every day and ruin my life.

It fulfils its potential.

As good as it is, it’s not the moment for beer.

When will it come? Or have I missed it?

14 Jul 2012

Oppigårds Single Hop Ale and Lund

The beer

The United Nations Single Hop Showcase Educational Programme (UNSHSEP), mandated at the 2005 World Summit, has only really begun to gain traction among member states over the last few years.

The UK is a global leader in the activation of the Programme, with both relatively new market entrants and established players now supporting the initiative.

While I applaud the sentiment of the Programme – to educate the world's palate and champion the hop crop – I can't help but feel divided by its outcomes.

I struggle to remember the last time I went to an Indian restaurant and asked for a single spice jalfrezi.


My hope is that this analogy resonates and I don't have to try and pretend I have a clue about what I'm talking about.


Just nod, in a kind of knowing way, and pretend you're on my wavelength. 


Maybe tap your temple with your finger. The one you point with. Finger, not temple.


Ignoring all the above nonsense, I'm extremely glad Oppigårds Single Hop Ale exists.

















A block of unremarkable (to these jaded eyes) pale orange, it's difficult to know what to expect.

Well, that is unless you've done the obvious thing – which is to read the label and find out what the single hop is.

The discovery that it's Styrian Goldings is a little disarming.

That's not very rock and roll now is it? That's not what the young people are into nowadays, what with all their Walkymans and their X-Station 2s, is it eh?

Any thoughts of tedium are instantly dissipated the moment you realise you're sniffing an apple crumble straight from the oven.

Any assumptions of banality are smashed into microscopic pieces when those aromas are carried through into the flavour and balanced outrageously well by a squeeze of lemon juice.

Charming and eminently appealing.


Makes sense – this beer was inspired by a visit to England.



The small city

Cities, towns, villages, hamlets, fields, parks, meadows.

Places occupy as much mind space as they do physical.

What I mean by this is this: your conception of, and connection to, a place is as important as its actual existence in the world.

Actually what I mean is my conception of, and connection to, a place is as important to me as its actual existence in the world.


I engage with spaces – from the vastness of mountain ranges to intimate corners of rooms – in a way I don't really understand, but that I know is distinct and different from the way I comprehend other stuff in the universe.

I'm increasingly bewildered by the unique circumstances that take me to places that would probably not even make the wishlist of a seasoned traveller.

See Salt Lake City, for instance.

Without wanting to do it a disservice, Lund is one of those places.

















Stars have aligned to bring me to this small university city in southern Sweden.

And I'm glad they did, because it's undoubtedly both charming and sophisticated – a bit like a Scandi Cambridge, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Also, The Bishops Arms has a branch here.


The match

This post is as much about the Swedish beer scene as it is about Oppigårds Single Hop Ale and Lund.

The reason that I've pulled out this particular match is simply that this was the stand out beer on my trip, and it was purchased from the Systembolaget in Lund – an outlet that combined an exceptional selection of Swedish craft beer with attentive, knowledgeable customer service.

Reykjavik's Vínbúð has a lot to learn.

I guess it's against this backdrop of state alcohol regulation that I want to applaud Sweden's thriving, vibrant beer scene.

It gives me hope that whatever the beer duty escalator throws at us here in the UK, good beer will out.

It'll find a way.

7 Jul 2012

Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada Life & Limb and Euro 2012


The beer

There is an intense darkness about Life & Limb, but one that stops just short of black.

















Clarity exists here too, but it is a solid, impenetrable, polished sheen rather than anything to do with translucence.

It doesn’t seem possible that any light could come from something so impassable, but bubbling beige froth is summoned somewhere from its depths.

Leaning in closer, vanilla pod scents and booze vapours evoke blurred memories of something I can’t quite make out in my mind’s eye.

Probably for the best.

An indistinct citrus swirl emerges, akin to a section of the aroma you get from a coffee they call bright.

Damp wood chip too, like walking through a forest in the rain.

I steel myself for a brutal alcohol mouth burn, but it never comes.

Instead there’s a caress of caramel sweetness.

I detect a dash of lime, feeling happy about the connection between smell and flavour.

A more overt presence is maple syrup, and it works brilliantly. No gimmicks here.

The finish is like a well-oaked Chardonnay.

I sense an underlying theme of wood in this beer that I hope hasn’t been planted in my mind by the label.

I walked into this beer having not read anything about it. I leave it feeling informed about its greatness.


The football tournament

There were two clear camps during Euro 2012: those who were irritated by its presence (posh people and nerds) and those who are suffering from a savage comedown now it’s over, falling forever down a pit of infinite despair, simply going through the motions of life like everything is okay when it’s definitely not, asking why the universe would show you something so incomprehensibly beautiful and then rip it from your grasp (me).















I think it was one of the best international tournaments in my lifetime. It’s up there for me with Italia 90 and USA 94.

But maybe that’s because the 2010 World Cup was such a damp squib. This was just contrast

Maybe there could have been more goals, but I can forgo the need for net busters when a tournament produces as many moments that will be forever imprinted on football history, that will be talked about when I am an old man, as this one did.

Shevchenko’s brace bringing joy to a nation.

Pirlo’s sublime majesty.

Mario’s semi final.

Carroll’s brutal elegance reminding everyone that old fashioned English centre forward play still has a place in the modern game.

Spain cementing their place as the undisputed best international team of all time, laughing in the face of the ‘boring’ haters.

Keane being as psychotic as a pundit as he ever was as a player (though ITV coverage can generally suck out).


The match

I could have undertaken some cheesy as fuck beer and, er, match matching throughout this tournament.

"Ooh, I’m watching Italy versus Germany, why don’t I have an Italian beer then a German beer?!?!?"

Get the fuck away from me.

That shit is so forced.

And deeply unlikely to bring about any truly great beer moment.

I decided early on I was just going to drink good beer throughout the tournament, with no thought to how it related to the game I was watching.

Pure sensory indulgence.

Nods must be given to some other standouts –Brasserie de Jandrain-Jandrenouille V Cense and Duvel Tripel Hop 2010 in particular – but Life & Limb is the beer that I will forever associate with Euro 2012.

Because in the moment I was drinking it, watching the England-Sweden game, I felt like I was 9 years old again.

Albeit with beer replacing Ribena and slight inebriation supplanting a sugar high.

How long till the Olympics again?

20 Jun 2012

Två Bryggare Kåseberga Färsköl and Kåseberga

The beer

Kåseberga Färsköl appears to be brewed by Två Bryggare, but I'm not entirely sure.
















'Färsköl' literally translates as 'fresh beer'. I'm not clear what the British equivalent of that is.

There's some chat on the label about Reinheitsgebot. I've no idea why.

Some real investigative journalism going on right here.

I'm sure this beer would look unimpressive hidden away in a dark corner of a shabby pub, but outside in the blazing sunlight it shimmers and sparkles, with flashes of dynamic yellow and vivacious golden orange dancing across its translucent body.

It's difficult to accurately identify what it smells like – the overpowering whiff of saltiness from the sea that's less than a metre away won't allow that – but a slight honey sweetness is detectable.

It could well smell of salt and fish too. I kinda hope it does for authenticity's sake.

That salt-obscured sweet aroma is carried through to the flavour. It's slightly cloying and there's not much else going on.

I don't really care.


The fishing village

Kåseberga is a tiny little village (no, I don't know the Swedish for village – see earlier journalism comment) in Skåne, not far from Ystad.
















The cluster of  buildings nestle just down the hill from the utterly epic Ale's Stones. If you are into megalithic monuments – which I most certainly am – I suggest a visit.

It's not just the stones themselves that are impressive – their jaw-dropping, imperious position looking out across the Baltic Sea demands contemplation and reverence.


The match

This kind of match is easy

It's intuitive. It's because I'm on holiday.

Pretty much everyone does it to some extent.

The quality of the beer doesn't really matter in these situations.

It's why Mythos only tastes good in Greece.

I'm in Sweden in May and it is incredibly sunny.

So sunny I get sunburnt, but I think I am the only man alive who can achieve this state of being in Sweden in May.

After being completely awestruck by the majesty of Ales stenar, and the intensity of the contrast between the deep blue of the Baltic and the plush greens and rapeseed-yellows of the Skåne countryside, we wander down a steep path to a seafront fish bar.

I try to hide my excitement when I see they sell a beer unique to this setting.

We eat what is undoubtedly the freshest, tastiest salmon I have ever consumed at a table by the water.

The slightly suspect sweetness of the beer actually compliments the saltiness of the fish, and I dream of it being being brewed by a retired fisherman in the village behind us.

If I ever drink this beer again I hope it evokes the sense of calm and blissful peace I feel as I listen to the waves gently lapping against the coastline.

Here's to holiday beers.


17 Jun 2012

Svaneke Bryghus In Your Pale Face IPA and The Bishops Arms

The beer

Svaneke Bryghus is a brewery in the small town of Svaneke, on  the eastern coast of a Danish island called Bornholm.

An island that’s actually closer to Sweden than it is Denmark, but as far as I can tell there’s no Falklands-level tension about this.

In Your Pale Face IPA has the word pale in its name. Twice.

















So when you find yourself staring at a deep mahogany red beer with flashes of orange haze and a quivering, luxuriant, ice cream-like head, there is a certain sense of cognitive dissonance.

Until the moment of revelation when you understand that they are obviously doing something clever with the name and this was all on purpose.

Red IPA. Red face. Not pale. I get it.

For a beer that is so visually striking, so vivid in its colour, its scent is remarkably subdued.

Damp cereal grain and a waft of hot cross bun.

There’s an instant hit of sweetness as you begin to drink: intensely caramel at first, then Victoria sponge as jammy, cake-like flavours develop.

Custard, icing sugar and raspberry are all referenced somewhere in there too.

I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a beer that has so much complexity at the sweeter end of the scale.

Eventually, a gentle Satsuma bitterness emerges – just enough to make sure it never gets anywhere near cloying and forcing you to dive back in for more.



The pub

The Bishops Arms (sic – and that missing apostrophe actually makes me feel a little bit sick) is a chain of pubs in Sweden.

















And they are most definitely pubs as you and I understand them. If you are from where I am from that is.

The decor in the Malmö, Gustav Adolf Square branch is very much based on the British pub, but it’s tastefully done. This is no theme park.

Except there are pictures of the UK’s constitutional monarch fucking everywhere.

If this was Britain, it would be a Loyalist pub – the sort where you’d get glassed if you didn’t cheers Her Majesty.

Any points this place lost based on that bit of oddness are won back by what is a mind-blowing selection of quality beer.

The bottle list is almost beyond comprehension. USA, Belgium, UK, Scandinavia all covered to a ridiculous extent.

Seriously, it makes some ‘craft beer bars’ in London look like a fucking joke.

There’s approximately thirty taps along the bar, weighted towards keg – though some of those are given over to the likes of Carlsberg and Staropramen.

The whisky list is also nuts, and there’s some kind of limited edition cask sitting at one end of the bar. I wish I was into whisky. It just hasn’t happened for me.


The match

Even when confronted with an overwhelming, enticing beer list, I think it’s important to go local and go draught.

Because despite the scarcity of some of the other beers on the menu, you know that the local beers out of those taps should be at the peak of their powers – the best you will ever have them.

I’d seen Svaneke beers knocking about in Copenhagen, but I hadn’t got involved due to the tidal wave of incredible beer that washed over me there.

Maybe I should have gone Swedish first – don’t want to get into geo-politics here – but In Your Pale Face IPA’s bizarre hand-drawn / Word Art pump clip mash up immediately caught my eye.

I’d also done a bit of reading around the brewery; its location fascinated me.

It seemed outsider, isolationist, at the edge of various worlds. I want to visit.

Swedish people told me it’s where they went to ride their bikes on school trips. Don’t shatter my dreams Swedish people, I’m not listening.

Regardless of quaint reality, the fact that a brewery as removed from cosmopolitan cool – geographically-speaking – as Svaneke Bryghus is can produce a beer of such innovative individuality and quality fills me with such incredulous glee that I almost break down and weep.

The 89 krona I’ve been charged for the privilege seems cheap.

12 Jun 2012

Magic Rock Brewing High Wire and the 2012 European Beer Bloggers Conference


The beer

If you’re into your beer, and from the UK, I would imagine you may have heard of Magic Rock.

Like a vampire responds to the opening of curtains at dawn, I recoil at exposure to reverent hype or rampant admiration.

It’s based on a scientific fact I made up that 80% of people are complete idiots with no taste, and therefore anything popular has to be pretty crap.

This means I miss out on a lot of really good stuff, making me a complete idiot and thus unequivocally proving the rule.

With Magic Rock I made a fundamental error in my calculations: people who like good beer generally have good taste when it comes to beer. D’uh.

So I had really not devoted much mind or mouth space to this Huddersfield brewery.

Until, that is, I arrived at their premises and poured myself a complimentary (thereby completely inhibiting my ability to critically appraise it) glass of High Wire straight from a waiting keg, as fresh as I will ever get it.

















In the hazy, mid-morning Yorkshire sun (seriously), its slightly-muddied-yet-vibrant orange constitution screams ‘consume me instantly’.

An assault of combined fruit aromas – as if you’d just peeled back the film on a supermarket-bought tropical fruit salad selection– hit you the moment you even think about raising it to your face.

Most prominent is grapefruit, which is great, as it’s still kinda breakfast time.

That sensory build-up play pays off as it makes physical contact, deftly dribbling through your midfield with mango and lychee panache, nut-megging your central defender with smooth, brown sugar sweetness, before placing a crisp finish beyond the reach of your keeper.

And I’ve just wasted my football allegory ahead of impending Euro 2012 posts.

Great.


The event

I’m not going to explain what the Beer Bloggers Conference is.

















There is a whole website dedicated to it.

I assume that if you are reading this text, you are connected to the internet.

Helpfully, I’ve even hyperlinked the words ‘beer’, ‘blogger’ and ‘conference’ above to said website.

I am a web usability guru.

Or lazy.

Based on the fact that it happened almost a month ago in Leeds and I am only writing about it now, I know which option I’d go for.


The match

I agree with anyone who says that calling this event a conference is a bit misleading.

If I was to get all semantic up in this bitch I reckon ‘convention’ would be more accurate.

But then I don’t actually care what the organisers call it, as it’s a great time, and I have better things to think about.

I attend for one reason: to drink and talk about interesting beer in the company of those that appreciate it.

A tiny handful of my friends and acquaintances actually care about beer (and why should they?), and therefore my opportunities to rant incessantly about it are limited –so a weekend doing mainly that is really appealing.

I don’t necessarily feel part of a movement, I don’t feel it is my duty to educate or actively promote good beer and this blog is nothing more than a self-indulgent journal of beer drinking experiences.

If anyone happens to read it, then great.

If it then inspires them to go out and drink exceptional beer, fine, but it is really of no consequence to me.

Maybe that’s why the beer I enjoyed the most over the course of the event was free from the constraints of trying to crowbar any agenda around my consumption of beer.

No, that would be unfair. I was actually engaged by most of the programme content.

Adrian Tierney-Jones’s chat around the freedom from editorial constraints particularly resonated, Stuart Howe brought his A-game as usual, and Paul Corbett, Managing Director of Charles Faram, pitched his hop talk at precisely the right level for the audience (i.e. me).

No, High Wire was the beer I enjoyed most over the course of the weekend simply because it was stunning.

P.S.

The Grove is the best pub in the UK by a huge margin.

2 Jun 2012

Jacobsen Original Dark Lager and Kødbyen

The beer

Jacobsen Original Dark Lager is the only beer brewed  by Carlsberg I will ever write about.

Probably.

















Don't expect any 'big brewer in great beer shocker' here though.

It looks okay.

Bit of red. Smattering of orange. Kinda cool copper richness.

Non-existent head, however, and little visible carbonation – which is a bit weird for a 'lager'.

Damp oats and synthetic sugar substitutes are all I can smell.

It tastes like the cheapest honey in the supermarket and Calpol.

Nice.


The hip part of town

Kødbyen is a bit weird.















It feels like it's in a transitional phase: from 'meatpacking district' to hyper-cool urban hangout.

There's still a considerable number of butchery-based companies here.

But the slaughterhouses are being squeezed out by creative industries, fashionable restaurants and trendy bars.

Dead animals snuggling up against hipsters.

The smell of rotting flesh cultivating sneering cynicism.


The match

I'm chilling in Karriere.

Yes. Chilling.

I quite like it. It does stripped-down industrial minimalism way better than any UK attempt at a similar vibe.

Though I believe I'm basing this mainly on the fact it still has those plastic strips hanging down in the doorway that you will have only encountered if you've shopped at a lost-in-time butchers in the north of England.

Considering Copenhagen's rep as one of Europe's coolest beer destinations, I expect the menu options to be better.

I know what Jacobsen is.

It's Carlsberg's response to Denmark's craft beer / microbrewery explosion of the early- to mid-2000s.

*cough* cash-in *cough*

Part of me feels this is a good thing.

Yeah, you should be investing your massive resources in creating more interesting beers.

Unfortunately, this Dark Lager is dogshit, and completely misses the point, feeling more like a branding exercise than a genuine attempt to do something to engage a more sophisticated palate.

Talking to the locals there's a real feeling the craft beer movement peaked circa 2005–7 around here and has been in decline ever since.

Did Carlsberg's meat headedness contribute to its demise?

No, I don't believe so.

As evidenced by the inaugural Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2012.

Here's to next year.

1 Jun 2012

Green Flash Brewing Co. West Coast IPA and Ølbutikken

The beer

At sunset, rays of light from the sun have a longer distance to travel through the atmosphere.

This journey is too long for the shorter wavelengths of green and blue, and these colours are stripped almost entirely from the spectrum seen by the observer, leaving only deep red and orange hues, the likes of which are replicated almost exactly in Green Flash Brewing Co. West Coast IPA.

















The head is off-white, motioning vaguely in the direction of brown in a way that's not dissimilar to toffee ice-cream.

Which pretty much puts an end to the evening sky analogy I was working up.

Oh well, the science is probably wrong anyway – it's half-remembered from a lesson at a rubbish school circa 1996.

I can run with the toffee comparison though, as the cara-malt aromas here suggest you've had a Toffee Dodger smashed into your face.

Wiping that biscuity debris away, there's a significant amount of fruit here too – a familiar triumvirate of grapefruit, melon and pineapple.

Do they still make Lilt? If not, sniff this for a reminder.

There is caramel sweetness in the preliminary taste encounters, but this sugar vibe is thin and light, rather than heavy and syrupy, dissipating at pace to reveal more bitter flavours.

At first, you think the bitterness is going to be brutal and way too much, as it accelerates quickly from 0 to 100 in nanoseconds, building intensity as it hurtles you towards oblivion.

Just as you brace yourself for palate ruination, it plateaus, and you realise West Coast IPA is a beautifully balanced, smooth yet exceptionally complex beer, that's as easy to knock back as it is to saviour.

Alongside familiar tropical fruit flavours, there's a real wine grape undercurrent which blows me away every time I drink it.

This beer vies for top spot in my US IPA Greatest Of All Time List, alongside Odell IPA and Sierra Nevada Torpedo.

It wears its West Coast nomenclature proudly.

This is who we are, this is what we do.

A perfect example of the style and a wonderful beer.


The bottle shop

I just spent way too much of my word count allocation on the beer, so I'm a keep this brief.

Ølbutikken is a cool little basement store just round the corner from the Mikkeller bar in Copenhagen, with a few fridges and a scattering of shelves.

















Those shelves aren't bulging – though perhaps that's because of the locust swarm of craft beer lovers that made the pilgrimage to Denmark's capital the week I visited – but the range is focused and tight.

There is no dead weight.

Plenty of Mikkeller, a few other Scandis, some incredible US names and the best of the Belgians.

There's a table and a few chairs near the window where you can hang out and drink the beer you've just bought.

If you leave here without buying anything, you're in the wrong place.


The match

As soon as I walk in there's a supremely-chilled, friendly vibe that reminds me instantly of the De Struise store in Bruges.

There is a lot of good beer down here.

I refer to my purchase criteria. There are some restrictions.

One large bottle to go in the suitcase, two smaller ones for drinking at the apartment.

I know what the large bottle is going to be.

I knew before I got here.

Because Ølbutikken stocks AleSmith.

Every AleSmith beer I've ever had has been great, and they are scarce enough in the UK that I long to cradle them in my arms.

Wee Heavy gets yoinked from the shelf. Because it's incredible. And may have fared better on its travels than some of the others.

After seconds of deliberation I grab Green Flash Brewing Co. West Coast IPA. Because I love them. And love this beer.

The satisfaction I feel drinking it later back at the apartment is overwhelming.

I almost weep.

Weep because it is truly astonishing, but also because of its rarity in my homeland.

Please, someone distribute Green Flash and AleSmith more widely in the UK.

Please.

Otherwise I'll have to go back to Copenhagen...

25 May 2012

Croocked Moon Zero and Fermentoren

The beer

Croocked Moon Zero is descibed as a 0 IBU American Pale Ale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Elemental swirls of fire and earth fight for dominance as it's poured. The sky doesn't really get a look in.

There's a slight hint of satsuma as you breathe in, but nothing more.

I'm expecting nothing but stark, malty sweetness.

However, this is bitter.

And not really sweet. At all.

Er, is this the right beer?

I'm a bit weirded out. Unsettled, even.

It slowly dawns on me that the closest thing I have tasted to this is Mikkeller 1000 IBU Light.

Okay, it doesn't have the ultra-brutal bitterness of that beer, but there is something similar in the flavour profile.

Maybe it's the Danish water.


The bar

Fermontoren is more or less just round the corner from the Mikkeller Bar in Copenhagen.

 



 

 




It doesn't quite match Mikkeller in the style stakes – it's more English-pub than Scandi-sophistication with its darts, board games and decrepit wooden furniture – but it is way more comfortable and relaxing.

I wasn't the only one who thought that either. No names mentioned, but I know a number of UK people hung out there and loved it as much as I did.

Oh, wait, I haven't really explained why I loved it.


The match

Well, one reason for the infatuation was the contrast against the crowded bar I'd just emerged from.

There's like two other people in here. Optimum.

The distribution of people per square metre is not my single criterion for judging how good a bar is though.

Wait, this isn't really a bar. Call a pub a pub.

A pub with a tight, focused tap list of exceptional beer.

De Struise, Cantillion, Girardin.

And dry-hopped Saison Dupont. Gimme.

The Croocked Moon beers on the blackboard intrigue me.

One, because that spelling disturbs something at the core of my being.

Two, because, Tony, an Englishman living in Copenhagen who's jamming at the bar sipping Pannepot 2008, tells me it's brewed by the guy that owns Fermentoren.

That means I must have it.

And as much as Zero is a bit of an oddball and I don't understand it, I enjoy drinking it.

Because it marks the moment I enter the trance-like perfect beer and life match state.

Lucid, calm, transcendental, centred, connected with the universe. Pure enigmatic pleasure.

No time or reality exists other than that I experience here and now.

The type of fleeting moment that you really only encounter in brilliant pubs.

Or bars. Whatever.

24 May 2012

3 Floyds Zombie Dust and Mikkeller Bar

The beer

Yes, I'm going to write about the same brewery's beer twice in a row.

Think of it as a appeal to those who move beer across oceans.

Because 3 Floyds Zombie Dust is every bit as jaw-droppingly spectacular as Powder Burns.





















Its dusky apricot hues nod towards the sun as the celestial body kisses the horizon.

A seductive whisper of delicate foam drifts lightly across the surface.

Piña Colada. Long Island Iced Tea. This smells so fruity and instantly appealing it needs an umbrella in it.

And maybe one of those monkeys cuddling a straw. I like those guys.

Have you ever eaten pink grapefruit for breakfast? Sprinkled with brown sugar?

If not, drink this, it's the liquid version of that. And is beer, so wins.

Cara malt smoothness adds a cream soda, root beer vibe somewhere in the mix.

The bitterness that exists somewhere within its anatomy is subtle; more a calming, drying feeling in your mouth that just adroitly takes the edge off all that citrus sweetness.

Please, someone, anyone, make the world a better place and ensure a steady flow of 3 Floyds beer down my throat.



The bar

Mikkeller Bar.





















Regularly featured in 'world's top 50 bestest bars ever' articles.

And for good reason.

The decor is all sexy Scandi style and pastel restraint.

That blackboard you see in the picture above has an intriguing selection of Mikkeller beers that you'll never have this fresh, alongside a few banging international rarities.

And you know, it's Mikkeller's bar. Even if you're not a massive fan of their beers you kinda have to admit it's cool they have a bar.



The match

The bar is less than ten minutes walk from my Copenhagen apartment. They have a 3 Floyds beer on.

'Can we go there now please?'

'But we haven't unpacked. Stop bouncing off the walls.'

Those of you who are stalking me will have noticed that I have screwed the chronological order of my Copenhagen posts.

There is a reason, and that reason is that I wasn't sure I was going to write about this bar.

And the reason (I'm a reasonable guy) for that is that I didn't have a great time here.

We went the night it was Keith Shore's private view type thing.

The week of the inaugral Copenhagen Beer Celebration.

And it was fucking rammed.

I am someone who deeply dislikes when crowds of people prevent me from drinking in the manner of my choosing.

The bar – the actual thing where you go and get your drinks from – was just not equipped to deal with the volume of humans requesting beer.

I can't really have that.

However, the reason (there it is again, no thesaurus for me) that I thought this match was worth writing about is the fact that even when I'm annoyed, frustrated and a little deflated, a beer of exceptional quality can still lift the occasion.

I would love to go to Mikkeller Bar when it's quiet, when it's me and like maybe four (max five) other people.

Either I'm some kind of anti-social misanthrope – bookies have stopped taking bets on that one – or I found another bar in Copenhagen that was quiet, had a great list, and on that day, suited my mood better.

More on that later...

23 May 2012

3 Floyds Powder Burns and Copenhagen Beer Celebration 2012

The beer

3 Floyds Powder Burns is an American IPA.

 












It glows hot orange like burning gunpowder. Which is apt.

I'd like to say the head is like smoke, but that would be lie.

Grand Marnier and Cointreau are not drinks I enjoy, but this has something of the orange liqueur about its aroma it pleases me, mixing as it does with a hint of the tropics.

Oh, go on then. Just one sip.

Bam.

The juciest, freshest mandarin oranges. Not too sharp. The right distance from overly sweet.

Then pepper. Freshly ground black pepper. This shouldn't work. It does.

Just as you're trying to work that one out, you're brushed lightly with the branch of a resinous, evergreen tree, providing the optimum level of dryness to trigger a repeat hand to mouth motion.


 
The festival

Listen, I don't want to rub it in, so I'm not going to bang on too much about the Copenhagen Beer Celebration.

 












I've even included a shot of the fairly souless sports arena it was held in to make you feel better.

I would advise not clicking the link I've included above. In fact, hopefully (for you), they've taken the site down.

Needless to say the list was incredible, the people were better and the vibes were immeasurable.

Mikkel Borg Bjergsø knows how to throw a beer-focused party.



The match

It's rare to be in a situation where there's so much hard-to-get, once-in-a-lifetime beer around you that your head spins.

You're pulled in different directions. All drinking tactics and strategies go out the window after ten minutes.

It's rarer still, when confronted with such exceptional variety, that one beer makes you think 'Christ, I want more of this. A lot more.'

Powder Burns was that beer.

Others, most notably Lost Abbey Red Poppy Ale and Stillwater's Debauched Viking Saison were unbelievably good.

In fact, there were too many great beers to do them all justice here.

So for one to stand out, to stick its head above the parapet, really is something.

The fact that I'm unlikely to drink it again any time soon fills me with great sadness.

I'll always remember our brief time together.

We'll always have Copenhagen.

18 May 2012

Adnams Broadside and airports

The beer

Adnams Broadside is deep copper with a beige hat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It smells like a brewery should: damp grain.

Initially, you believe that malty, sweet cereal (Frosted Shreddies?) flavours dominate, but if you engage your brain, and listen to what the beer is telling you, you'll notice a precise, delicate hop profile.

Orange marmalade.

Tang.

Broadside is in fact quite dry.

It's not quite as good as Adnams' stunning Southwold Bitter, which is easily in my top five bitters of all time list, but it is a great beer.

 

The aviation facility

Airports.

I quite like them really.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, it takes fucking ages to get through the bastards, but I weirdly like the ritualistic processes.

Yes, that does make me some kind of masochist.

And that moment when you get through all the did-you-pack-this-yourselfing and shoe-taking-offing and emerge blinking into the glory of the departure gate, with all its resplendent shops and eating establishments, is golden.

Unless the post-security area is a living hell. Geneva, I'm looking at you.

 

The match

Luckily, I'm at Gatwick Airport's South Terminal, which is a pleasant enough area to kill an hour or so in.

Especially when it has a Wetherspoon's.

Say what you like about this monolithic pub chain, but for me, the fact that there's one in almost every major UK airport is a great thing.

It means you are almost certainly guaranteed to be able to get a decent pint of something decent.

Hell, the Flying Horse here at the South Terminal even has a Cask Marque. If that still means something.

And Wetherspoon's were responsible for my best ever airport beer experience, the monumental day when I wandered in to a different Gatwick Wetherspoon's and discovered the utterly brilliant Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale to be on.

I didn't write about it because I couldn't possibly begin to describe the range of emotions I went through.

Needless to say, it was almost spiritual.

My worst ever airport beer experience was at LAX, where I got stung for $9 for a Samuel Adams Boston Lager in a shitty faux-Mexican bar – the only option at the time.

But even that was okay really.

Because, regardless of the specifics of the venue and the beer, the post-security / pre-flight limbo is a perfect time to sit down, relax and have a beer.

Heading off on holiday?

Well, time to get the party started.

Heading home from holiday?

One last huzzah before you return to normal life.

Heading away on business?

Well, screw them for making you go all that way, time for a beer.

Returning from a business trip?

You're not really going to get any more work done today, so, you know, may as well have a beer.

It just makes sense.

And when it's a great beer like Broadside, it would just be plain rude not to indulge.

Only one mind, being half cut on a plane is not cool. Although I do have a plane drink (not beer) that I only ever drink on planes. If you've ever caught a flight with me, you'll know what it is.

Unfortunately, this Wetherspoon's is rapidly filling up with proper mentals, and I have to drink up quicker than I would have liked, as I'm deeply intolerant.

Oh well, off to Dixons.