*On 20th January 1982, I had an epiphany. It was in the Peverel Of The Peak on Chepstow Street in Manchester. One of Manchester’s most venerable pubs and one which plays an enormous part – for many reasons in my Beer “journey”.
The epiphanic beer was Wilson’s Bitter. I had, in my hand, a pint of (gulp) Carlsberg Lager. One taste of the Wilson’s made me put down a near full pint and order a Bitter. I never looked back.
Many would bracket that beer – should it still exist – as “boring brown beer”. A term that is as lazy as it is deserving of ridicule. But it isn’t trendy to call out those who use it. What bollocks!
But that’s the thing with this new orthodoxy. English hops (and the beers that they mostly contribute to) get mocked, while experimentation gets applauded. But here’s a thing….
Last weekend, I say on a judging panel for Stockport CAMRA to help to choose home brewers beers to produce at a local Brewery for drinking at the Stockport Beer Festival in May. The initial judging panel that I was on featured a number of beers where people were attempting strange and wonderful things with hops and other adjuncts. But the best beer, kept it simple. And – shock & horror – used Fuggles & EKG hops.
Prejudice is a bitch, ain’t it?
Next up – the way beer looks.
I’m 50 years old – I know, I know, I look older OK! But unlike some of my age group, I like most beer styles. (I’m yet to truly appreciate Sours, but hey….) And I understand that drinking is about using all of the appropriate senses, sight, smell, touch (feel) and taste.
But, to me – unlike many “fanboys” & “fangirls” it would seem – deeply hazy beer is NOT an attractive thing.
Let’s go back nearly 9 months.
A Brewery (who shall remain unnamed, as this is not their fault) released a beer. It was a “wheat type” Beer. It was cloudy and hazy. I GET that these beers (generally) are likely to be so. But – and here’s the rub – they are uniquely (to me) visually unappealing.
So when people start to coo “Ooh…. That looks delicious… ” My hackles start to rise.
“No it doesn’t! It looks like a syphilitic piss sample!!!!!”
(If I’d have presented such a sample to my doctor, I’d be concerned.)
A beer may smell and taste absolutely lovely – as this beer did indeed. I sampled it in bottle. It was a delight. And I said so at the time.
Fast forward to another beer. Another picture. Another hugely opaque beer.
More social media cooing…… “Ooh…. Looks fabulous….. Must have….. ” That kind of thing….
It looked like carrot juice.
In the empire of the senses, sometimes, not all should be trusted.
Yes. I like my beer to be transparent. I’m kind of old fashioned like that. But I don’t pre judge a beer on what I see. I wait until I taste it.
*And the reason that I know that particular date? I recently stumbled across a website dedicated to the Bristol “Punk Jazz” band, Pigbag, which contained a list of their concerts and noted the date for their rescheduled Manchester gig at Rafters.
It was a memorable night in more ways than one.