And I will drink two

Picture a man of 35. He gets up every morning and gets in his car, goes to the office, moves papers around, goes out for lunch, plays poker, moves some more papers around, leaves work, has a couple of drinks, goes home, meets his wife, kisses his children, eats a steak in front of the TV, goes to bed, makes love, goes to sleep. Who reduces a man’s life to such a pitiful series of clichés?
– Raoul Vaneigem, Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage de ceux qui aiment les livres aux titres très longues et tout à fait meaningless, ce qui n’est pas français mais who cares no one’s going to read this far

(He dunnit, by the way.)

I was working in an office when I read that book, and I have to admit that when I got to that passage I thought that sounded like a bloody good day – lunch out! booze! sex! steak! I mean, obviously creating at long last a situation which goes beyond the point of no return – or even a situation that knocks on the point of no return and runs away – would be even more fun, but how often do you get to do that?

So I’ll admit I’m a creature of habit. Saturday evenings, in particular, almost always involve a takeaway and a couple of pints. But pints of what, eh? I’ve been thinking for a while I ought to keep track of the beers I drink, if only to give me a fighting chance of avoiding the Manchester Pale style in future. So, if you’re not interested in reading a beer-spotter’s tasting notes, don’t read on. I’ll be updating this post regularly in future, quite probably on Saturday nights.

(The remainder of this post is now a separate blog.)



  1. Posted 28 April 2008 at 01:19 | Permalink | Reply

    Having grown up in Stockport I started out thinking the Manchester Pale style was what beer tasted like. Subsequent exposure to a splendid Courage pub (The Castle) near Thatcham when on chamber music summer schools (I turned 18 on my third one….) with a real ale fanatic showed me a little more variety, though I don’t recall any of the range of bitters giving me a “shock of the new” sensation. Going to university in Durham brought the much sweeter tastes of S&N (and, in clubs, Federation Ales which were better). Fed Special, Newcy Exhibition and (in bottles) the much-missed Newcastle Amber Ale fuelled my studies, and bore no relation to the beers of home. When I moved to London on graduation the beers bore even less relation, and I really did do a double-take the first time I went into a Young’s pub. But I acquired the taste and Fuller’s London Pride is now my bottled beer of choice. I still enjoy a pint of Robinson’s when I can get it, either on trips back to Manchester/Stockport or occasionally as a guest beer in Edinburgh. (My CAMRA school-friend put me onto a Stockport pub which in those days – though no longer- had the Robinson’s range available not merely on hand pumps but on gravity feed from a row of casks behnd the bar. The only time I’ve encountered that for anything other than ultra-exotic guest beers in upmarket drinkeries. This place had one of the tackiest exteriors I’ve ever seen and a distinctly local clientele.)

    I also like Yorkshire beers (Sam Smith, John Smith, Tetley, Theakston): my second favourite bottled beer is Old Peculier). But my third favourite bottle is almost a harking back to the Stopfordian years, though it’s actually Scottish: Harviestoun’s Bitter and Twisted. Just finished a bottle while blogging, in fact. Not a trace of toffee, and I doubt you’d enjoy it much.

    Incidentally, in your stout sampling have you encountered Guinness Foreign Extra? It’s the one in the small bottles and bears only a slight resemblance to its populist big brother. Very drinkable, and I speak as one who is not a great stout fan (though like you I quite enjoy B&T).

    IMHO cider in pubs is best reserved for when one is in the West Country and can buy small quantities of decent scrumpy.

  2. Posted 28 April 2008 at 01:22 | Permalink | Reply

    Just re-read your Decadence review and obviously you do know Guinness Foreign. Must look out for Marble beers.

  3. Phil
    Posted 28 April 2008 at 22:54 | Permalink | Reply

    If you like the Manchester Pale style you’ll like Marble beers – although you may have to make a trip to Manchester. Their bottled range, most of which I’m very fond of, is quite untypical of their cask ales. Every so often I check back on their standard range (there are four, counting a regular seasonal beer) and discover I still don’t like any of them – like Bazen’s, they’re variations on a theme of “too pale and hoppy”.

    Interesting you mention Robinson’s; I’d say Robinson’s bitter falls on the right side of the tawny & malty/pale & hoppy line. But it is very bitter and not at all sweet – probably the driest beer I like. I do drink Bitter & Twisted occasionally, just because it’s so well put together – it’s quite a rounded, complex flavour. But no, not my favourite by a long chalk.

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