The perfect pint. Mystical. Discussed in hushed tones.
Often it’s less the liquid and more the setting, the temperature outside, the amount of hard work carried out previously. That means it can be a generic high street lager with mates before the football, quenching thirst after helping someone move house, a pint sat on holiday sipping away having worked out the meaning of life, or sometimes it’s that quiet moment of solitary reflection.
Now, we have the ‘craft’ movement, a wonderful idea, far better to put money in the hands of small passionate producers than large corporations? Problem is, some of it is truly great, a lot isn’t. Too complicated, lacking in fun and inducing hangovers that again question the meaning of life.
So what are you to do? Stick with the larger craft producers? Cloudwater, Wild Beer & Harviestoun - their Schiehallion is my favourite beer. Problem is all are hard to find on draft in many places outside of London. My solution is sticking to those locally based breweries with passion. For me down in Wiltshire that’s Gritchie Brewing Co. Relatively new on the scene and Lord knows who owns it, Gritchie grow their own barley and use water from their farm to create some of the most interesting and best tasting beer I’ve drunk in some time. Fresh, flavourful, just enough about it to make you want more, not too easy to drink.
It could be the Guinness’ travel principle, always tastes better in Dublin. To my mind that’s partly setting and mostly marketing – Stoke Newington’s Auld Shillelagh will match any pint of Guinness. Maybe ‘Summer Lore’ tasted great because it was in the King John or Beckford Arms, that ‘Angel Lore’ because it was on a hot late Dorset summers day at the Fontmell, all great pubs that tick the ambience setting, or perhaps it’s just they’re both a great pint? If only it was in my local…