On Sunday, I made my 3000 words by lunchtime, so earned a Hoegaarden Grand Cru.
I’ve had it before and really enjoyed it, but I didn’t really have a tasting hat on then. This time, I really took my time over it.
There are many of the same flavours as Hoegaarden Wit, though this isn’t a wheat beer, as far as I can tell. Here, though, the accent is on spice (coriander, I guess) rather than citrus, although there are orange flavours). The thing that really stood out for me was how well the spices, the spiciness of the yeast and the alcohol (8.5%) complemented each other. It’s more warming than refreshing. It’s also a really beautiful golden colour, rather than the pale yellow of the Wit.
Both Boak and I are big fans of Hoegaarden Wit (although it’s not as good as it used to be, owned by a big company, etc. etc.) but Grand Cru really is something special. It might even make it into my top ten.
You might have noticed that the posts have been a bit less frequent recently. That’s because:
1. Boak is studying for an exam and so has time neither to drink nor write about anything other than something called “subjunctives” (search me…) and
2. I’m in the middle of my second attempt at National Novel Writing Month — I’m supposed to write 50,000 words between 1 and 30 November.
Of course, beer is playing a part in the latter. Is it unhealthy that my reward for reaching a day’s target (say, 3000 words by lunchtime today) is usually a strong Belgian beer…?
Why do people even bother going to the pub? Or, to put that another way, what does the pub have that you can’t get at home?
One obvious answer is: other people. You might be sat in the corner on your own reading the paper, but you want there to be other people around. Empty pubs are depressing places.
Another possible answer is: proper beer. For some people, that means cask-conditioned beer. For quite a few other people, it just means anything fresh tasting off a pump, hence the push to sell those little kegs for drinking at home which will supposedly replicate the experience.
For me, though, the reason the pub is special is because it’s like home, but not home. Your local pub should feel as comfortable as your front room but, unlike your front room, there should be the buzz of conversation, decent beer and, most importantly, four walls to stare at that aren’t your own four walls.
Following a tip-off from Stonch’s blog, I convinced some colleagues that, if we must go for an after work drink on a Tuesday night, we should do it at a Fuller’s pub, so I could try cask-conditioned London Porter.
It’s one of our very favourite beers — there’s a very short list of about four beers that both Boak and I agree are bang on — but I’d never had it on tap.
As is often the case, it was a very different beer than the bottled version. It had a lighter body for one thing and possibly also a lighter colour (transparent red). Unlike the bottled version, it maintained a lovely head all the way down. It was incredibly fruity, with a little less of the sourness or coffee flavour I’m used to from the bottle.
I probably ever so slightly prefer the bottled version, but nonetheless, it would be nice if this stayed on tap in Fuller’s pubs all year round. As it is, they often have both Honey Dew and Discovery, which are similar-tasting light, lagery ales, and HSB and London Pride, which are similar tasting brown bitters, and nothing like a dark mild/stout/porter except Guinness.
In fact, all pubs should make it their business to have one lightish beer, one brown beer, and one black beer. Then there would always be something to suit my mood.
I noticed this weekend that Sainsburys and BHS have stacked the shelves with beer-related Christmas gift boxes. Both shops are selling a “Lagers of the World” set, including such rarities as Fosters, San Miguel, Cobra, Kronenbourg 1664 and Stella Artois.
My eye was caught by BHS’s ale gift set, though, because it has a tiny 330ml bottl of Ridgeway IPA in it. That’s a beer I had once and quite liked, but haven’t seen since.
Both shops also have a shockingly large selection of plastic beer steins with “humorous” designs. How many of you will be getting one of those from a well-meaning relative this Christmas…?