Do Not Refridgerate

Hogs Back T.E.A.Many Brits I have met are under the misconception that the only beer available in America is lager, simply because this it what is exported to the UK. While Americans do drink other kinds of beers, these beers tend to be chilled. The first thing I had to get used to drinking beer (and soda and water) in the UK was that it was often warm.

Hogs Back Brewery’s Traditional English Ale is bottle conditioned, meaning the yeast is still active in the beer, and part of the fermentation takes place in the bottle. It is considered “live”– resembling real ale in the cask. The label clearly states “Do not refridgerate” and suggests a serving temperature of 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In California, where I am from, this would probably require chilling of some sort but in England it’s room temperature.

I was skeptical, being a beer-cheat in this one regard. I chill most beers I drink. But maybe it was the cute little pig on the label, or more likely that I was cold from carrying my beer haul home under the ominous grey skies, and I was getting my head around the idea of a warm pint.

And it was without a doubt a revelation. This ale presents you with a full-on toasted nose, a rounded malt middle with a light caramel warmth. Undoubtedly it is this delicate sweetness that would be lost first with chilling, the most charming note. Despite its subtle complexities, it’s balanced and easy to drink, even “warm” (says this American palate).

T.E.A., like it’s namesake that other English beverage, is a come-in-from-the-rain, a welcoming sort of drink. It seems to say, Don’t worry, you’ll dry.

With: springy Comte cheese on an oat biscuit with a smoosh of avocado.

While listening to: Irma Thomas’ It’s Raining

5 Responses

  1. Beer should be damn near room temperature. Craziest beer thing I’ve ever seen is everyone in Thailand drinking beer with ice in it. It’s so damn hot that it makes sense. Either that, or like Diamond Dave, you go crazy from the heat, and don’t know what makes sense or not anymore.

  2. Iced beer is just…wrong. People here put ice in cider– there are ad campaigns showing big pint glasses full of ice. This also seems really bizarre, even more so because it’s the only time I’ve seen a decent quantity of ice put in any beverage here! Soda and water you get in restaurants usually has no ice in it at all.

  3. Oh, and are you quoting David Lee Roth?

  4. really enjoying your blog – a refreshing perspective on a familiar world. A few things spring to mind – elsewhere you mention about the casual racism that seems linked to real ale, by & large I’d disagree – in my experience real ale is linked to more liberal/progressive minds, but that some of the racist/sexist/homophobic side of pub life in general might spill over into the real ale a little (hence some of the daft beer names that crop up from time to time – Dog’s Bollocks anyone? :~)

    About the serving temp for UK beer – you must have a strange internal thermostat for 55F/12.8C to seem warm – that’s a pretty cool day to me, or a perfect beer cellar!

    Anyway, keep it up!

  5. Hi Mike– thanks for commenting– I’m relieved to hear that the racism I’ve perceived in more “real ale” environments has been coincidental and not something that is part of the culture as a whole.

    And the idea of a perfect beer cellar– yes! I wish I had one! My internal thermostat is indeed a bit wonky but hopefully no one will hold that against me. I come from Southern California where it is almost always quite warm, and most drinks including beer are served very cold. Though I am warming up to the idea of a pint served at a temperature so that you can taste everything.

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