Friday 4 May 2012

Session #63 — the beer moment x 3

Too many beer moments to count so on walking the dogs came up with three and decided to stick with the ones that spontaneously fermented in the mind, rather than pick and choose and trim and tail.

Travelling through Suffolk, decided to stop for a pint at the King’s Head in Laxfield, one of my favourite all time pubs. A glass of Adnams Best Bitter, as it was then called, its backbone of English Maris Otter (as was then used) and spicy, pithy citrus Kentish hop character; muscular and mandatory in that I felt that I needed another. Car outside though, expected at home later in day — a quick weakening of resolve, a scan through a notice board to see if there were any local B&Bs and the creation of an excuse for why I needed to stay another night. I’m glad I didn’t as sometimes you cannot recapture that first beer moment of the day no matter how many pints you have.

At a CAMRA meeting in the mid 1990s, at which I was asked to take over the branch newsletter, effectively my tipping point into beer writing. In the Royal Clarence Hotel in Burnham on Sea, which was then the home of RCH brewery. ‘Try this,’ said someone (I forget who). A pint of RCH’s East Street Cream, the deliciousness of which made me stay with it the whole evening, in the enjoyable company of an elder chap who was called Freddy Walker (yes the former submariner after whom Moor’s beer was named in the late 1990s). ‘I think we’ll have one more,’ was the constant refrain for the evening. A beer that I still enjoy but that first meeting was glorious.

From the maturation tank a golden stream of beer, topped with a marsh-mallow head of foam. ‘We call this Spezial,’ said the brewer at Chodovar, before pointing in the direction of nearby Bavaria, ‘and over there they call it Marzen.’ If there was ever a moment of beery epiphany that set me off on a quest this was it. The beer was creamy, fresh and perky, fulsome in the mouthfeel, with a bittersweet buzz followed by a notable bite of bitterness; it felt both smooth and rough, a heady combination that made it one of those dreamy beer experiences to be had when tasting a beer straight from the tank.  I’m still dealing with the consequences of this experience.

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