Essays and Aphorisms: The Environment.
It’s never been hidden where I’m doing my tastings, from the half hidden kettle in the corner and a bottle of mouthwash, festival kegs or pretty barmaids, it’s always there in the photo. More than that I try to add in music listened to and the like, and I always have an urge to add more, to say what’s going on, the weather, who’s around, and so on.
Why? It’s hardly because any of you care if I’m buck stark naked, drinking whilst urinating from the top of the Empire State Building onto the appreciative crowd below. (Or maybe you do, if only to be glad that I’m not doing that and thus giving you a mental image you can never rid yourself of)
At the most basic it shows how much attention is being paid to it, a pint in the pub with mates is likely not going to be as lovingly examined as a bottle drunk at home in front of the fire, so it will most likely be somewhat less leisurely as to not be completely anti social. Though again, a group gathering with a shared set of pints discuss and laugh, sharing the moment and the tastes, sparking conversation and ideas that would have never occurred before. But there’s more to it than that.
So again why – why the where, the who and the when? Because it alters things, much as we would like to claim a pint is a perfect thing of wonder, and as a perfect thing, it cannot be altered from its perfection, that is quite frankly, bollocks.
A beer is suited to a time – there is no point breaking open a Good King Henry after six pints of lager, nor should an Aventinus Eisbock be appreciated in the midst of a football match crowd – but more subtly, a Hopback Summer Lighting seems out of place at winter, and the delicious subtleties of Oakham Asylum weep in the face of a greasy burger. A cold room is the bane of a subtle whisky, the list is endless. On the other end of the scale annoyingly there is the sickly sweetness that too many beers take on in a heat wave.
In face of all that, it’s important to let you know what’s going on, as it is a warning of what variations may be introduced, why possibly the review may be less than reliable for your experiences; if favourable, in what condition you should enjoy it (and yes by that I mean that Hair of the Dog beers are perfect when one is experiencing them sleep deprived, in Japan, after a pimp has unsuccessfully tried to get you into a club of questionable purpose).
Everything adds in its own elements, Brewdog Punk IPA is not just perfect with a bit of Propaghandi and one of my favourite appreciation beers. Its punch of flavour doesn’t need your attention to be obvious, so it can be appreciated when your mind is on taking the piss with mates over a fucked computer lying in thirteen pieces on the floor. Ulvers music complements any (normally high ABV) beer that leaves you staring at the ceiling entranced, and lost in intricate subtleties, and Tesco Value Lager is perfect for giving someone a vision of what hell may be like if they don’t change their ways.
So its important to know, and yet so often overlooked, are you in a pub cadging free drinks from strangers by giving them improvised tasting session, or arguing with some racist twat. Are both events one and the same? (Answer: Yes) Did the anger at such ignorant viewpoints combined with an appreciative crowd lead to somewhat more verbose waxing loquacious about beers in the vain hope to impress the crowd (Answer: Probably).
All these change how we approach a beer.
Yet we ignore it
So let’s call to memory, in 20 years time as your favourite beer passes your lips, remember that night, the perfect game, the lost or won argument, the friends and the loved ones.
Let’s drink to drinking being something more than just drinking.
(Thanks to Tanja for doing the editor work on the article)