The A‑Team

Illustration: the A-Team.

Without quite meaning to we’ve acquired some habits – a line-up of bottled beers that we always have in the cupboard or fridge.

What fol­lows is prob­a­bly as near as you’ll ever get from us to an X Beers Before You Y list.

Bit­ter (pale ale) or pale and hop­py ses­sion beers we tend to drink in the pub. We’re spoiled for choice, real­ly, even in Pen­zance, and even more so if we take the bus out to the Star at Crowlas. Still, it’s worth say­ing that St Austell Prop­er Job is our default pub drink these days. It’s for the more unusu­al styles that we resort to bot­tles.

Anchor Porter from the US which goes at around £2–3 per 355ml bot­tle in the UK is our go-to beer in the stout fam­i­ly. We arrived at this deci­sion after prop­er test­ing. When the urge for a dark beer that real­ly tastes dark over­comes us, this is the one we reach for, know­ing it will be great every time.

There are lots of great Bel­gian beers but one that nev­er gets bor­ing, because it’s the best beer in the world, is West­malle Tripel. There are always a cou­ple of bot­tles of this in every order we place.

Orval is our favourite exam­ple of… Orval. We went from being scep­ti­cal to puz­zled to devo­tees over the course of a cou­ple of years. We love it in its own right – it’s always dif­fer­ent, yet some­how the same – but we also like to play with it. It’s our house stock ale if you like.

We don’t often need a stout more robust than Anchor Porter but when we do it’s Har­vey’s Impe­r­i­al Extra Dou­ble Stout. It tastes its strength, coats the tongue, and comes with a trac­tor-trail­er of funky weird­ness that real­ly does ensure a sin­gle glass can last all evening. One case every oth­er year seems to do the job, though.

This is both our most bor­ing choice and like­ly to be most con­tro­ver­sial: we’ve yet to find a flow­ery, aro­mat­ic Amer­i­can-style IPA that is bet­ter val­ue or more reli­ably enjoy­able than Brew­Dog Punk. Every time we open a bot­tle or can we say, ‘Wow!’ which is exact­ly what we want from this kind of beer. Nine times out of ten Prop­er Job at the Yacht Inn is all the hops we need but this is the one we keep at home when our blood-humu­lone lev­els drop to dan­ger­ous­ly low lev­els.

When we want some­thing sour and refresh­ing we con­sis­tent­ly turn to Mag­ic Rock Salty Kiss. It’s not over­ly strong, not over­ly acidic, and is just the right kind of acidic for us, too. (But we won’t say too much – it’s com­ing up in the cur­rent round of Mag­i­cal Mys­tery Pour.)

But there are still vacan­cies – styles where we play the field. When it comes to lager, we cur­rent­ly cycle through St Austell Korev (great val­ue, easy to find), Thorn­bridge Tzara (yes, we know, not tech­ni­cal­ly a lager, but tech­ni­cal­ly bril­liant) and Schlenker­la Helles (the smoke is just enough of a twist to keep us excit­ed). Even though we tast­ed a load of them we still don’t have a bot­tled mild we feel the need to have per­ma­nent­ly at hand – it’s a pub beer, real­ly. We tend to buy Sai­son Dupont or Brew­Dog Elec­tric India but that’s not a lock – we’re still active­ly audi­tion­ing oth­ers and sai­son isn’t some­thing we drink every week. When we get the urge to drink wheat beer, we’re still hap­py with Hoe­gaar­den, and most Ger­man brands do what they need to do, so we just pop to the shops.

So, that’s us. A ten­den­cy to con­ser­vatism, to the safe option, and to the famil­iar. (Which is, of course, what Mag­i­cal Mys­tery Pour is intend­ed to counter.)

But what about you – do you have any go-to beers? What are they? Or does the whole idea of drink­ing the same beers over and again just bore you to death?

20 thoughts on “The A‑Team”

  1. Inas­much as I have reg­u­lars, they’re O’Hara’s Leann Fol­láin when it’s on offer: cur­rent­ly 4 for €10 in Tesco; Spat­en: €1.89 in Aldi; and Crafty Brew­ing Co. Irish IPA: €2.49 in Lidl, though only if it’s fresh.

  2. Pil­sner Urquell – My go-to beer in pubs where the cask ales might be of dubi­ous qual­i­ty – even bet­ter in the grow­ing num­ber of pubs serv­ing the unpas­teurised tank beer. Always refresh­ing cold from the fridge at home too.

    North­ern Monk Eter­nal – Best of the canned ses­sion IPAs from this coun­try, always have some in the fridge.

    Oakham Cit­ra – Don’t often buy it bot­tled, but lucky enough to come across this often in Cam­bridge, none bet­ter than in the Live & Let Live. How­ev­er, there was also a “Sum­mer of Cit­ra” where it fea­tured on the Greene King guest list and made vis­its to many GK pubs sud­den­ly much more appeal­ing. Any­thing from Oakham is go-to around here – prob­a­bly the most con­sis­tent, reli­able “local” brew­ery.

    Fullers Lon­don Porter – A clas­sic and always avail­able in Wait­rose. Shame its rarely encoun­tered on draught in these parts.

  3. I used to have locked down go to beers, ones that you could almost always guar­an­tee to find in my fridge, it start­ed off with Bris­tol Beer Fac­to­ry Southville Hop, then Thorn­bridge Jaipur, next it was Siren Craft Sound­wave, then Beaver­town Gam­ma Ray, and then Mag­ic Rock High Wire Grape­fruit. Yes, pret­ty much IPA is my go to beer style, and the chance of find­ing oth­ers in my fridge was slim.

    But over 2016 I seem to have moved away from hav­ing a go to beer, I think part­ly due to the con­stant change of beers avail­able and the intro­duc­tion of Cloud­wa­ter and sea­son­al recipes. Also improv­ing my home brew­ing abil­i­ty over 2016 has meant that what I brew tends to be the go to beer now, as its sat there in vol­ume.

  4. Hawk­shead Win­der­mere Pale is one of my favourite bot­tled beers though it’s not that easy to get hold of at a decent price unless you live near a Booths super­mar­ket. It’s only 4% (the cask ver­sion is 3.5%), pale & hop­py, the sort of of thing I’d nor­mal­ly only drink on cask but real­ly works well with the way they’ve pro­duced it. I can’t think of any oth­er UK pro­duced bot­tled ses­sion beer that I’ve tried that comes close to it. I would hap­pi­ly knock back bot­tles of the stuff if I could find a local sup­pli­er. Writ­ing this now is mak­ing me con­sid­er buy­ing a batch direct from the brew­ery, if only I was­n’t such a tight-arse…

  5. Super­mar­ket choice is some­what lim­it­ed, but I tend to go for Prop­er Job, Cit­ra, or Ghost Ship from the PBA range or cans of Voca­tion.

    If I want some­thing dark, there aren’t many options. I might go for Prop­er Black or Guin­ness West Indies Porter.

    Pub choice is more var­ied, so I tend to go for some­thing I don’t know – although 90% of the time I still large­ly stick to some­thing 4%, pale and hop­py. I’ll try the craft keg if its £5 a pint or less.

  6. Unfash­ion­able I know but I’ve always enjoyed the bot­tled ver­sions of the stan­dard Sam­brook’s beers, Wan­dle, Junc­tion & Pump­house Pale. They seem con­sis­tent & well pro­duced and the Wan­dle does­n’t seem to have that “cop­per coin” note that you usu­al­ly get with non-bot­tle con­di­tioned brown ses­sion bit­ters.

  7. Prop­er Job is the best wide­ly-avail­able UK bot­tled beer, imo, and is £5 for 4 in the Asda at the end of my road.

  8. I have three reg­u­lar beers at the moment: St. Bernar­dus Abt, ‘t Ij IPA and Butcher’s Tears Isaac’s Rose. The last of those three, as well as being a rare exam­ple of an AK, was also one of my 60th birth­day beers.

  9. We’re spoilt in Scot­land these days – lots of inven­tive brew­ers mak­ing great beers across the styles. Fyne Ales Jarl or Avalanche, Tem­pest Long White Cloud or Pale Armadil­lo and Black Isle Yel­lowham­mer or Red Kite gets my week­end ses­sion­ing off to a start. After one of those, any­thing’s pos­si­ble…

  10. I like Brains Dark as a mild, but the bot­tled ver­sion is 4.1% vs 3.5% in cask. Extreme­ly tasty.

  11. I’m either in the pub or get­ting bot­tles or cans from the beer shop in St Albans.

    Pub (cask): Oakham Cit­ra, Tim­o­thy Tay­lor Land­lord and Red Squir­rel Lon­don Porter. All three of these are on tap pret­ty much con­stant­ly in St Albans. Death or Glo­ry by Tring Brew­ery is a go-to bar­ley wine when it’s on which is sev­er­al times a year.
    Pub (keg): Fullers Fron­tier Lager and Brook­lyn Lager.

    Bot­tle: I vir­tu­al­ly always get a bot­tle of Bro­ken Dream by Siren or a Lon­don Stout/Porter (many recipes/strengths) by Ker­nel.

  12. Down the pub, Old Pecu­liar, although only one pub has it on draught here in Corn­wall, Dyna­mite Black Charge if around and now Treen’s Cuck­oo (of both types) for Cor­nish style bit­ter. Plus Mena Dhu on keg. Bot­tles: Dark and/or clas­sic IPA, porter, ESB

  13. Punk IPA had been in the past but gen­er­al­ly if I’m order­ing online (which is major­i­ty of my beer con­sump­tion these days) I don’t want to waste postage on stuff I’ve had before.
    Beaver­town gam­ma ray some­times sneaks into my bas­ket at local offli­cence and like oth­ers I have reg­u­lar brew­eries Bux­ton, cloud­wa­ter, bound­ary, eight degrees when I can get hold of them

  14. Beloved stand­bys include Dead Pony Club, Duchesse De Bour­gogne, Stone Arro­gant Bas­tard, any­thing Mar­ble and Jev­er.

    Can­non­ball, Gam­ma Ray, Eter­nal, Com­mon Grounds and Black Bet­ty are also on heavy rota­tion, most­ly because my local Bar­gain Booze stocks ’em.

    On the whole though I do like to try new stuff when I see it, espe­cial­ly from favourite brew­ers like the above-men­tioned Mar­ble, Bux­ton, Cloud­wa­ter, De Molen and Mikkeller.

  15. Sai­son DuPont, Orval and Fuller’s ESB are per­son­al favorites that can be had reg­u­lar­ly and at a good price. I am always excit­ed to drink them and would keep my fridge stocked if I could.

    Punk IPA, Brook­lyn Lager, Nøgne Ø Porter and Nøgne Ø IPA are ubiq­ui­tous pub offer­ings and enjoy­able enough, but if there’s some­thing I have not tried I will have that instead.

  16. Sai­son Dupont
    Left Hand Milk Stout
    Brew Dog – Dead Pony Club
    Chi­may Blue
    Mag­ic Rock Can­non­ball

  17. I live in France (think £6‑pint for Heineken) so find­ing good beer is hard though my chum with a café (in Trou­ville, Nor­mandy) has BD Punk IPA on draft (thanks to me : ). On my for­ag­ing trips back to the UK I will always get Sier­ra Neva­da, stronger Brew Dogs, Proper/Big Job, Lagu­ni­tas, Thorn­bridge, Siren, Bux­ton etc. If I get to a Booth’s super-marché I’m like a kid in a sweet shop… I can get West­malle, Duv­el, Orval etc for less than 2€ a bot­tle, they’re always present in my ‘cave’

  18. Vibrant For­est Cydo­nia (Mar­t­ian Red Ale) is amaz­ing (though I do have trou­ble choos­ing between most of the inno­v­a­tive VF beers). More con­ven­tion­al­ly Flack Manor’s Black Jack (porter) and my old favourite Wych­wood’s Hob­gob­lin.

    I also agree with B&B on West­malle Triple (or Dubbel)- I’ve just received a 24 crate (8 each of Dubbel, Triple and the monks very own Extra) from Bel­gium in a Box. If you have any ‘go to’ bel­gium beers Kurt at BIAB has to be your ‘go to’ sup­pli­er – great ser­vice and great prices. How does he deliv­er a crate of 24 bot­tles to the UK cheap­er than many UK out­lets can deliv­er with­in the UK? No con­nec­tion BTW – just a sat­is­fied cus­tomer.

    Furze Dale Brew­er

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