Here are five reasons why beer is awesome!
No. 1 – Continuing the Story of Beer
We’re very lucky in the UK to be at the heart of brewing heritage. Beer has a long and fascinating history of reinvention and rediscovery. I can’t recommend enough Pete Brown’s sociable history of beer, “A Man Walks into a Pub” if you want an entertaining read through the last few millennia of beer. The US craft beer revolution (which then spread to the UK and beyond) was arguably inspired by young American brewers trying to reinvent old and almost forgotten English styles, namely the hoppy, high-ABV Indian Pale Ale of the 1800s. Now styles are being reinvented all the time by the wonderful new breweries popping up. You’ve got reimaginings of milk stouts and milds, IPAs and imperial stouts, saisons and wits, to mention just a few. What is not to love!
No. 2 – Five Pints Later…
Now I’m a thirsty person and I can’t deny that one of the reasons I think beer is best is its sheer drinkability.
Compared to other alcoholic beverages it’s pretty low in alcohol (beer is typically 4-5% in the UK) and the bitterness that hops add, even in fairly low-hopped beers mean that, for me, it’s a drink for the whole evening! Can’t beat it.
No. 3 – The Magic of Grain to Beer
I remember the first time I did a proper brew from malted barley. It was many years ago now but it was like magic.
Brewing beautiful, bright, hoppy and delicious beer from just four (frankly quite unappetising) ingredients – grain, hops, water and yeast – is a truely marvellous thing.
No. 4 – So many beers, so little time…
Like so many of the fermented drinks and foods that rely on the world of microfauna, one of the joys of beer is its amazing complexity of flavour. Even if you stick to the four ingredients above the ranges of colours, flavours and styles is quite staggering. A few years ago I set myself the challenge of drinking 500 different beers in a year. It was a eye-opening experience, going into pubs, bars and breweries and ordering the weirdest beer I could find. Surprisingly 99% of the beers I tried I liked or loved. Never has there been such a selection of beers to try. The huge variety and complexity of beers always keeps me coming back for more.
No. 5 – The Joy of Beer and Food
A fairly recent revelation for me is the joy of consciously matching beer and food. It’s really quite hard to go wrong, much easier than matching wine with food. Just remember the three “C”s of beer and food matching – Cut, Compliment & Contrast. Beer is fizzy so regardless of the beer style, the carbon dioxide will cleanse your palette. All beer will cut through fatty or rich food brilliantly. And if your beer has similar flavours to the food it will complement it (think of a citrusy hoppy beer with a Thai salad zingy with lime, or a deep fruity ESB with a rich prune and pork stew) and conversely, you may choose to contrast your food and beer (think a sour cherry kriek with a chocolate soufflé or a dark chocolate porter with a creamy vanilla panna cotta).
It is really affordable to buy a few different and interesting bottles of beer and share them over the courses of a meal. Slowly restaurants are catching on. It’s more affordable than wine and fundamentally much easier. Taste the food, sip the beer and then taste the food again. If the food tastes better or fresher the second time it’s a success. Taste the beer again. If it tastes better too then that’s even more of a match. Simple. Give it a go.
(Being married to a chef is obviously a bonus!)