Beer Matters

ďWhatís in a name?Ē

Still on the subject of glasses, I do commiserate with Wendy Goughís experience (RW p.671) but I havenít personally witnessed such an act of blatant sexism for some years; I thought we lived in more enlightened times. I can only say, as in all beer matters, if you donít like what you are offered, say so and stand your ground.

Meanwhile, misquoting Juliet set my mind off on another tangent Ė whatís in the name of a beer and how does it affect our preconception of what might be in the glass?

Of course, we discerning drinkers are impervious to the blandishments of marketing men and unmoved by the nuances of nomenclature Ė or are we? Some seasoned topers of my acquaintance are distinctly wary of ales with silly or scurrilous names. How many people turn their noses up at Bunceís Pigswill? Then again, I am told that one well-known ringer who doesnít normally indulge forced himself to sink a half of Titanic White Star purely on account of the name.

I recently tried Hook Norton Haymaker and was surprised to find it a rather heavy, malty bitter (5.0%). Now Iíve done a bit of haymaking in my time and I can tell you itís one of the few activities more thirst-inducing than ringing. After hours humping bales on a hot summerís day, what you need is a lot of pints of something light, refreshing and low in alcohol. Fullerís Chiswick does the job admirably (a perfect session beer, so why isnít it more widely available?). So, Iím sure, would Hook Nortonís own Best Bitter (3.4%) , but Haymaker would be better suited to, if not a winterís evening by the fireside, at least a day when the haymaking had been rained off.

Some names are rather more apposite. Take Wychwood Dogís B.. Ė sorry, this is a family newspaper Ė Canine Gonads. Before they changed the recipe, it really was the er, bees knees. Then there is Exmoor Beast, a fearsome black ale which even bears the number of the Beast (see Revelation) at 6.66%. Not exactly a thirst quencher but superbly balanced for a strong íun and well worth a go at the end of the evening.

And if the name doesnít make the point forcibly enough you can always change the colour. Whilst investigating a few Wetherspoons recently, I encouraged my drinking companion to try Stonehenge Spring Fever, purely for the pleasure of seeing his face when presented with a pint of bright green liquid, but the spoilsport barman gave the game away. Taste-wise, itís not a memorable beer though, definitely in the gimmickry department.

My accolade for the most original beer name goes to That, the house bitter at the Three Fyshes in Turvey (Beds) when it was a home-brew pub a few years ago. Apparently there were so many customers walking in, gesticulating and saying ďIíll have a pint of thatĒ that the beer was renamed accordingly.

Maximus Bibendus

Reproduced by kind permission of The Ringing World.

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