Sunday, 19 April 2009

Lager than life

Sunday afternoon after a rigourous morning spent watching my 10-year-old lad in an enthralling game of rugby in Tiverton — it’s getting more like the real thing as he gets older. To the pub then when we get back to Dulvie. By the river, at the Bridge, as the sun shines. As J and his mate drift downstream in their wetsuits, it’s time for an ale. Or is it? I fancy a Budvar on draught. So here it is, all golden in the sunlight as the birds sing and the passing river pipes it own song. ‘It’s got to be lager when the sun shines,’ says Jools, who lives round the corner, ‘you’ll not be having your usual Otter then,’ thus perpetuating the eternal myth that lager is for the summer alone, while anything darker is for colder times — I hardly need to remind beer lovers that there is a lager for every occasion and that there is also a bitter for every passing of the day; in fact there is a beer for every moment. This all starts me thinking that the whole lager-ale divide is such an artificial war, such a contrived division — lager has its baggage as does the family of ale, and while, thanks to the work of good people like the late Michael Jackson, the past 30 years has seen this Berlin Wall come crumbling down, but there’s still a lot of work to persuade people that good beer is good beer whatever the temperature it is fermented and matured at.*
The thing of wonder is that there I was sitting by a slow moving, lazy old crystal clear Exmoor river enjoying a pint of Budvar that had been brewed with the sort of aesthetics that wouldn’t be out of place in the way this old Exmoor river flowed and drifted its way down towards its ultimate destiny.
* I have always loved all beers and the book of all books that I would like to write would be on lager, though how I would approach it and how I would avoid all the usual claptrap I haven’t got a clue — perhaps I should hire a coach (and horses) and dress up as Schubert and take a barrel of beer around Europe and call it Lager Than Life. Or maybe not…