We don’t leave sherry out by the fireplace for Santa on December 24 in our house: not that I dislike an Oloroso or Amontillado myself under the right circumstances, but this is a beer-oriented home, and anyway I reckon the old boy would like something refreshingly hoppy after several tens of million glasses of sweet-and-sticky… Read More What ale will you be leaving out for Santa?
The name of the Hilton London Tower Bridge is a triumph of marketing over geographical accuracy, since it’s actually far, far closer to London Bridge, in the More London development, about a minute from London Bridge station and easily 12 to 15 minutes or more by foot from the more iconic Gothic bascule job down-river… Read More The XXX factor
To be “intoxicated” means, literally, to have been shot with a poisoned arrow, thanks to a roundabout philological journey involving the old Greek word for bow, toxon. The same root led to the made-up word “toxophilite” for people who practice archery for sport. Early in the 19th century the Royal Toxophilite Society used butts (that… Read More A religious experience in a restaurant
If you’re going to build a rant, the foundation needs to be dug out of solid, properly researched facts. Which is why Tony Naylor is being a prat. I’m very sorry to diss a fellow beer writer and freelance journalist, especially when he was writing on the Guardian‘s drinks blog with such excellent intentions –… Read More Why Tony Naylor is being a prat
The Procrustean nonsense of defining rigid categories that every beer must fit into is well illustrated by The Leveller, one of the brews with Civil War-themed names from the Springhead brewery, at Sutton-on-Trent, near Newark, in Nottinghamshire. The Leveller is brewed, like almost all Springhead’s beers, with Maris Otter malt, plus, in this case, some… Read More Categorical nonsense
When Fuller’s announced in 2005 that it was acquiring Gale’s of Horndean, I couldn’t get very upset, in large part because I was angry at what Prize Old Ale had been allowed to become. This should have been a proud and heavily promoted flag-carrier for British beer, about the last survivor of the “strong old… Read More The Prize goes to Fuller’s
When I was researching the etymological roots of various European beer-related words, I discovered there had been a Gaulish personal name, Curmisagios, which translates as “the beer seeker”, or, if you like, “the beer hunter”. Among the tribes who lived in Gaul, home of Curmisagios, were the Belgae, whose own name was borrowed in 1790… Read More One for the Curmisagios
Cakes and ale is an under-rated combination, despite it being a well-known expression in English*. Barley wine is best: I once had a slice of fruit cake with a bottle of the Traquair House Ale (seven per cent ABV) at the tearoom in the grounds of Traquair House itself, when I was travelling through the… Read More Cakes and ale and ducks
How much metaphorical baggage can you pile on a simple bar snack? Can bread, cheese and pickle (plus some lettuce and a sliced tomato, if you like) really be placed in the dock and charged with representing the worst kind of British fakery? Does the ploughman’s lunch masquerade as a false representation of simpler times,… Read More The ploughman’s lunch – guilty or innocent?