Saturday, 23 April 2011

Why do I blog about beer?

This was the question asked by the organizers of the first Beer Bloggers' Conference to win a free ticket to the event. A 140-character answer on twitter about why I blog about beer, my answer was

"I blog about beer because beers excites my imagination and stimulates discussion and good times".

Apart from my woeful spelling and grammatical errors, guess what?! I won!!

I was considering going to the BBC anyway, but it's right before my last university exam and did not think it would be wise! Doesn't matter now, I'm going! Such an interesting combination of lectures about beer history, brewing, blogging and, best of all, meals, beer tasting sessions and some evening parties. It is worth missing out on some revision.

The last conference I attended was about British colonial Cyprus. For eight hours. In a very small room on a very hot day. This conference looks like a much more exciting prospect, and since it's free I'm going to 'drink it up' like no tomorrow. Such a great opportunity to meet fellow beer enthusiasts, industry players and some genuinely nice beer-loving down to earth people.

Can't wait!

Monday, 11 April 2011

What did that guy just say?

Being a student isn't easy. (I first published this by saying is instead of isn't. I really thought I could delude myself!).I know what you're thinking - "all you lazy students, too much time on your hands, doing nothing and getting drunk/high/intoxicated non-stop" - but there is still some difficulties in being a student in this day and age. There is no routine, so much work on so many different topics and then you have to live with dodgy landlords, dodgy student houses and most definitely dodgy beer. I'm writing my dissertation, 12,000 words of what I think Britain and the 1931 Revolt in Cyprus and I'm so nearly finished. Nearly being the operative word there.
I am itching to enjoy my last summer of freedom, drinking as many different IPAs as possible and trying as many continental beers as my stomach can allow me to on my summer jaunt interrailing around Europe.

With all the work work work, it hasn't stopped me from spending way too much on beer/ale/alcohol. It has, though, stopped me from updating this blog as regularly as I'd like. So here we go;

1. Bought my first Mixed Case of Beers from MyBreweryTap. I went for the USA selection, simply because I'm not going to the U.S. anytime soon and I had never tried any good American beers. When I seriously started becoming more interested in beer a couple of months ago, it was such a surprise to find that the U.S. is the centre of the world's Craft Beer revolution. I tried some truly fantastic beers. One particularly that stood out was Victory's 'Golden Monkey', a Belgian-style ale. Spicy notes of cloves and herbal flavours, cloudy and a really enjoyable drink. Belgian beers always seen to make me turn into a postulating professor, with the unusual tastes and flavours buzzing round the mouth. I also tried many Odell and Sierra Nevada beers. Odell is a veteran of the craft beer scene in the States (also the name of a village near Bedford, my home town!), and I throughly enjoyed the 'Amber' and the '5 Barrel Pale Ale'. Both clear IPA's with citrus and hoppy flavours. Sierra Nevada is the biggest craft brewery in the States, and out of the several I tried the best was the Porter. It was one of the best I've tried. Morish, chocolate and coffee notes but also not too heavy on the palate and drinkable so as to have more than one, a rare feat from a porter/stout!

America truly is the centre of where beer is going, though Britain isn't far behind with more and more microbrewries starting up every couple months! It's inspired me to make my own beer and finally go to the U.S., trying as many American beers as possible!

2. Went to the Wetherspoons Real Ale Festival around Reading. I went to all three pubs on my own (I know, sad act right) since most of my friends have gone for the holidays and I was in town anyway. After purchasing some Pork Belly, I went to The Back of Beyond and had two 'festival pints'. A great way of trying all the beers on offer, you get 3 1/3 for the price of a pint and you can use your CAMRA vouchers to get 50p off. Also went to The Hope Tap and The Monks' Retreat Had a few fantastic selections, but have lost my piece of paper which I used to note for!

3. Been using a lot more beer in cooking. At the moment ,the beer world is championing the accompaniment of beer with food in a new way. Newspapers, magazines and bloggers are pairing beer with food at home, in fancy (and normal) restaurants and even encouraging beer-aging, just like wine! I suppose in a world where fewer of us are going to the pub, it makes sense for more and more breweries to offer us not only beers to accompany our home-cooked meals but also for breweries to raise their profile in restaurants and rare drinks for dinner parties, collectors or just for the beer-obsessed like myself! Been using IPA for a fish pie, even used the new Avery Brown Dredge to make a traditonal Scottish recipe, Cullen Skink! Stout and Beef soup. So many options, so little time/money!

4. Wandered in M&S one day and found a '6 for the price of 5' offer on ale,cider and beer. Tried many different ales, stouts and ciders. The two that stound are the 'Belgian Wheet Beer', brewed for M &S by Huyghe, Hazy, spicy with orange peel, corriander and sour fruit flavours. Fantastic find. Also, the Cornish IPA was fantastic too. Brewed by St. Austell brewery, it had a clear, citrus flavour with a lovely hoppy aroma. It was so good even my non-ale loving g/f had to exlcaim "I love IPA!".

5. Contemplating on my own homebrewing. Definitely after I have finished uni, I'm going to make my own. Recently saw an opportunity to buy a rather sophisticated collection of home brewing equipment, might have to dive in at the deep end and get stuck in!

6. Have now read all of Pete Brown's beer-related books. They're a fantastic blur of historical insight (pleasuring to the history buff inside me) but also of the author's personal journey into such topics as beer drinking in different cultures, Britain's beer culture and the history of IPA and even travelling all the way to India, on boats and on a similar journey to those made by the British empire for hundreds of years! Fantastic and funny reads, I recommend them to anyone who is interested in beer, travel and culture writing.

After May, this blog will become much more regular!