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27-03-2012, 11:21
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Beer is a simple drink isn't it? Well it ought to be surely, but to read some of the concoctions that people boast about drinking you wouldn't think so. Barrel aged in bourbon/whisky/wine casks. Mucked about with and with unlikely sounding ingredients, usually with hugely unwelcoming alcohol content, these are often in my experience, more a test of endurance than a drinking pleasure.

Not that most of us ever get a chance to try some of these experiments, as they are hard to find. While there are beer writers that talk of them a lot, it does seem to be a certain set of brewers, often young and as they see it, cutting edge, that big them up and set a scene that gullible fan boys are keen to follow. In attempts to outdo each other, even more outlandish stuff can be expected. Some will work, but many won't and just don't. But they will sell. Ex blogger Jeff Bell put it rather well in a tweet this morning in reply to beer writer Pete Brown; "@PeteBrownBeer personally I've never had a barrel-aged beer I've liked. Suspect there's an unclothed Hapsburg at work.

Talking of Pete Brown. He wrote rather an excellent piece for London Loves Business about the delights of session beer. You can read it here (http://www.londonlovesbusiness.com/lifestyle/london-bars-and-pubs/browns-beer-step-aside-craft-beer-its-time-for-our-session-beers-to-shine/1986.article). He says about strong and unusual beers " I have found myself, whenever I’m given a choice, opting for the adventurous. I have to; it’s what I do." It is indeed, though most of us aren't in that position, which given the descriptions of some of them, makes me feel rather lucky. Pete goes on to expound the delights of the session beer. Quite right too, for this is "proper" beer drinking. It is what makes our beers in the UK so splendid. Their sheer drinkability. Pete continues: "But sometimes you find yourself at a bar where every beer you want, you want it to be the last beer of the night. That’s when you yearn for the session pint – your trusty friend with whom drinking responsibly doesn’t have to mean not drinking enough." I identify with that. In my recent post (http://tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/brooklyns-best-evening-with-mr-oliver.html)about meeting Garrett Oliver and drinking some of these strong exotics, I missed out one thing. When I left, I went to the Angel and ordered a 3.9% pint of something pale and swoopable. I had a drink of beer rather than an experiment. It was the best drink of the night, though it might not have been the best beer of the night.

There is of course room for both types of drinking and of course there are good "experimental" beers out there and of course a lot depends on personal taste. The siren call of money isn't far away either in all this. These beers can be lucrative, but I wonder in all the talk we have about CAMRA being old fashioned, if we in CAMRA haven't got the basics right? Beers you can drink a few of without falling over and beers that you can drink without grimacing at every sip, while, since you've probably forked up a fiver or more for a for it, feeling obliged to tell everyone how awesome it is. Even if it is giving you the boak.

Maybe some of this snobbery, one upmanship and pretentiousness is helping put CAMRA types off "craft" beer?

Must quote Pete once more: "Tasting @HarviestounBrew (https://twitter.com/#%21/HarviestounBrew) Old Engine Oil aged 6 mths in a Grenache barrel on wine lees. Wow. Just wow. Redefining what different drinks are."https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/8629758183547510158-5936324246114625454?l=tandlemanbeerblog.blogspot.c om

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