Be as into beer as you need to be

How interested should you be in beer? As interested as you want to be, as long as it makes life more enjoyable.

That could mean not at all.

If being fussy or analytical about beer makes you enjoy life less, then don’t do it.

Drink what you like, where you like.

You’re not doing it ‘wrong’ or missing out.

Equally, you might find, as we have, that being slightly obsessive makes the world more fun.

It’s an optional downloadable add-on that gives us a new way to look at and explore places.

A good pub or brewery tap can turn a dead end into a destination.

With beer in mind, a few spare hours between appointments can become a mission, and a pleasure.

Decisions make themselves. Options grey themselves out.

Which way to go?

That way, towards the beer.

Talking about beer beats talking about the weather, or football, or wallowing in the grim state of politics.

Or, at least, it’s a way of cutting the grim state of politics into digestible pieces.

We can’t change the world but we might be able to nudge things along in our own small corner of it.

If you’re not interested in beer, or have fallen out of love with it, don’t fret.

There’ll be something else along soon enough – birdwatching or woodwork or embroidery or…

If you’re lucky, that is. These harmless obsessions are a blessing, for most of us.


Explicit Beer Geek Phone Chat

Oh-so hilarious mock advertisements for beer geek phone chat lines.

This is another thing we’ve previously shared on Twitter. Apologies if you’ve seen it before and especially if you don’t think it’s got any funnier with age. (And apologies are also due to Viz Comic who have been doing this joke better than us for thirty years.)

Beer styles

Explaining lager vs. ale

This week, a colleague asked me in the pub whether London Pride is better than Carlsberg and what the difference is between them. I wasn’t quite sure what the most helpful answer would be.

I’ve seen a perfect demonstration of the wrong approach, in a well-known beer geek pub in London. A young woman at the bar asked her boyfriend what ale was, exactly, and how it differed from beer. She was overheard by a huge, bearded man with bona fide piss stains on his trousers. He ran the length of the bar, pint in hand, to crowingly deliver a complex explanation about different yeasts and top and bottom fermentation. He also threw in a bit about exceptions to the basic rule like koelsch, alt, dark lager and so on. As well as making him look like a total tosser, it wasn’t a terribly helpful answer for someone with a very limited understanding of beer and a passing interest in finding out more.

I’ve been asked this question by Spanish friends in the UK, and my answer is usually something like: “Lager’s what you usually drink in Spain. It’s generally light in colour and fizzy. In Spain (and usually in Britain), it doesn’t have a strong flavour, although you can get lagers that are more bitter or aromatic. Ale is a traditional British drink, and is less fizzy, fruitier and usually more bitter. It is often brown, but can be lighter or darker. Personally, I think the flavour of ale is much more interesting and varied than the lagers you usually get in pubs in Spain or the UK.”

But that also looks quite patronising when I write it down.

So what is the best answer, particularly if you want to encourage people to try the ale and give the Carlsberg a miss?


American beers

Beer geek droppings

Spotted in an alleyway in East London, not far from our house: two empty Brooklyn East India Ale bottles.

I haven’t seen this on sale anywhere other than Utobeer in London. Are there other beer geeks in the vicinity? (If so and you’re reading this — what’s wrong with the recycling bin, ya litterbugs?)

Blogging and writing

Reviewing pubs and beers without looking like a geek

A mobile beer review
A mobile beer review

I’m always a bit self-conscious about taking notes in pubs, and generally don’t bother. But what do you do when you come across an interesting beer that you really want to write about later?

Text messaging is the answer. Just write your review in a mammoth text, and save it. You look like you’re a cool dude with loads of mates, rather than a sad sack looking for blog material.

Paul Garrard has a PDA, which could also work to review anonymously.