Almost British
March 12, 2010

Me at Sunkenkirk, 2006

It isn’t hard to give up beer.

Provided, of course,  you don’t go to any stores that sell decent beers, and you forego reading beer blogs and avoid pubs altogether, even crap pubs because you might end up having a Guinness.

See, it’s easy.

Except what happens when you realize that after 5 years of immigration limbo, this country you’ve been living in has finally adopted you?  Through an arcane, Kafkaesque ritual involving metal benches, bulletproof glass and endless paperwork it has secured you to its bosom as tenderly any bureaucratic behemoth could.

My passport now reads SETTLEMENT, and I can stay.

So you see, I had to plan carefully on that day, because I really, really wanted a beer.  I ended up at the Gunmakers because I knew Jeff would have Old Rosie on and in some twisted logic I felt that drinking cider would allow me to continue my fast with some integrity.  But when Mr. Malting and my friend P both had pints of Old Engine Oil it became harder.  But I persevered, I will have you know. Even when Jesus John showed up, regaling me with tales of Hardcore IPA on cask at the Rake, I did. not. waver.

I think John would have rather been at the London Drinker fest, which was no doubt where Jeff, the Landlord, was.  Last year I attempted to go and couldn’t contemplate standing in the queue which wrapped around the block– glimpses of the interior revealed it to be packed.  After the surreal ordeal at the Border Agency, the last thing I wanted to do was be in a crowd.

But what this means is we are no longer tied to London for work permits, etc.  We can live anywhere in the UK, and I think we are both ready to find a new place.  I am already planning beery pilgrimages of this fair isle, if anyone has some suggestions, I’m getting out my maps.  Those of you in the UK, tell me about your locals.  Which nearby breweries do you favor?  In short, what’s it like where you are?

Hop Pop
February 17, 2010

Japanese "Good Kids Beer"

Japanese "Good Kids Beer"

I’m giving up beer for Lent.*  The irony of posting this on my beer blog isn’t lost on me.

My health has been poorly for weeks– I haven’t been able to drink much beer lately at all.  It’s strange to have a hobby that is, at least for me, really dependent on my body participating happily.  With that said, I have been drinking with relish the new Brew Dog Nanny State which is kind of like a hop soda pop.  At .5% it’s technically “alcohol free”.  Far superior to the unfermented hop tea that was the first Nanny State, this version is packed with Amarillo hops, which are my favourite. But Brewdog Nanny State has me thinking about Near Beers– particularly these Japanese kid’s beers which I’m dying to try.  Call it  a temporary regression!

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday. I went to see Wolf People at the Lexington and did a nice job of exceeding my daily units by having three pints of Sierra Nevada (much better on keg here than in bottles in the US– less sweet and the hops really zing).  It’s good to note that this pub has an excellent selection of bottled American beers and the staff are friendly, efficient and knowledgeable.

I will most likely continue to drink Nanny State during my Lenten privation.  Will it feel like cheating?  I’ll let you know in a few weeks.

*I’m not Catholic, but seeing as Catholics have borrowed so much from the Pagans, I feel it only right to steal a few things in kind. The cyclical poetry of Ash Wednesday has always felt significant, coming as it does at the last pale of winter. It’s a good time for meditating on an habitual pleasure.  Imagine how good that first springtime beer will be.  I have weeks to think on which one it will be.