Last weekend we went with a group of friends for a heavy metal weekend at the Butlins holiday compound in Minehead. It was All Tomorrows’ Parties, a music festival headlined by the Melvins. I’d never been to a Butlins before, and was even misspelling it as Buttlands (I blame my inner Beavis) until I’d seen the sign. I didn’t think about beer until I got there and was confronted with the range of mediocrity: a couple forgettable lagers, Guinness and Blackthorn cider. The first night I drank the cider which made me feel as if I were poisoning myself, and not slowly. I looked longingly at all the people carrying around their pints of Guinness. Guinness is usually my choice when confronted with nitro-banalities. I thought how bad could it be? Guinness was my gateway beer– paving the way for my adventures in real ale. I would drink it and feel nostalgic, right?
Wrong. It was a terrible pint– thin, too sweet and flat. And it cost £3.50.
The next day we went into town and stopped to get some local beer– Cotleigh and RCH, both Somerset breweries, have yet to disappoint. I finished the Exmoor Beast (Exmoor Ales), a beer I’d enjoyed at the Twickenham Beer Festival. It’s a straight up porter with a warming alcohol front. I watched as Mr. Malting drank not only the Barn Owl but the Pitchfork as well… (I curse the day I coaxed him to try better beer! That Barn Owl was mine!) I was left to bang my head to Mastadon while sober, or drink the nitro swill.
You can guess what option I chose. I wondered if the camp looked better to those who were drunk? If really getting hammered would have lessened the feeling that we were all in a human storage unit? If it would have dulled the flashing machines waiting to eat our money and blotted out restaurants serving ration-like food that had been dried, frozen or tinned and blanked the bars serving the same yellow lager that was soaked into the carpets. In short: beer, beer everywhere and not a drop to drink.
So, when confronted with a mediocre line-up, what is your tipple of choice? Or, for those of you with a penchant for the heavy, what is your perfect metal brew?