Frank likes beer. I know to some people that might sound horribly vulgar, but thankfully he’s not a pint-swilling ‘lager lout’ causing havoc on the streets outside Yates’s wine bar. Frank likes proper beer – craft beer – and I’ve learned a lot over the past 18 months, namely that a can of Stella does not constitute what many people would call 'proper beer'. I’ve sampled ruby beers, fruit beers, stout, Belgian beers, and even a yummy London-brewed lager. I’ve even discovered my all-time favourite: Yakima Red from Meantime Brewery.
Nowadays a glass of wine isn't my only tipple for a cosy night in. In fact, beer seems to go hand-in-hand with my all-time favourite weekend feast: takeaway pizza. And these tasty beers aren’t limited to trendy London boozers or country pubs. I've been pleasantly surprised at how many decent beers are stocked on the shelves of my nearest Tesco, so you'll often see customers emerging from the aisles cradling an array of German and Belgian wonders, or else some of the more mainstream (but equally tasty) real ales by the likes of Badger, Meantime and Brewdog.
Being a word lover at heart, one of the things I also love about beer are the quirky naming conventions you stumble across. Beers called 'Waggledance', 'Fursty Ferret' and 'Old Peculiar' to name but a few. And nothing beats that first, cool sip of a tasty beer after a long, tiring week.
The world of beer, increasingly like the world of wine, is full of very knowledgeable types, and I don’t pretend to know the first thing about the brewing process or have anything meaningful to say about taste, other than ‘hmm, that’s nice’ or ‘ick, ick ick’. But from my limited knowledge, I’ve pulled out a couple of beers you may find in your local supermarket that have been responsible for converting me into a beer-lover.
Meantime London Lager
This was the first beer I tried during our Meantime brewery tour last year, and it quickly taught me what all lagers should taste like. Keeping true to its roots by using East Anglian hops and Kentish barley, this beer is refreshing, light and has a nice citrus twang.
This German beer is one of my favourites, because it’s easy to drink all year round. Smooth and cloudy, this refreshing wheat beer has hints of citrus, banana and clove (get me). Definitely one to recommend!
Fruli Strawberry Beer
No doubt there’ll be some purists reading this post and shaking their heads at the preposterous notion of mixing fruit and beer. But to me, if you’ve ever headed over to Belgium and been lucky enough to sip cherry, strawberry, raspberry or peach beer, you’re very lucky indeed. Just stick to one though as they’re really rather sweet!
A bit of a stonker at 9%, so only drinkable in small quantities for me! It has a deep amber colour and is more on the malty side, bitter at first with a sweet (caramel?) after taste. This is a Trappist beer from Belgium, so it’s brewed in a Trappist monastery (one of only eight in the world apparently). A definite plus point for me is that all the money raised from sales of Chimay beer is used to fund the monastery and a variety of charitable causes. Excellent choice!
Do you drink beer? What are your favourites?