The 21 beers of the last 10 years has been a topic of conversation online recently and it got me thinking about the beers that have shaped my tastes over much more than 10 years of drinking.
1. Stones bitter (cask) – was the first beer I’d drunk and actually liked. Possibly first cask ale I had and was so much better than the electric metered fizz that seemed to be everywhere in the late 80’s to which at a young age I still preferred pop.
2. Wilsons bitter (cask) – I was working in the Sun Inn at Lepton when this new to me cask ale was introduced alongside the then only cask of John Smiths. What a flavour revelation it was then to my young taste buds. As Keith Ward, the landlord used to say – ‘its just like new milk’
3. Lowenbrau Pils (bottled) – Once you get to the age to go down town on a Saturday night and you go to pubs and bars that don’t sell proper beer or beer you’d trust it had to be lager. I didn’t like lager until I found the Lowenbrau Pils
4. Landlord (cask) – In the early 90’s the cask choice wasn’t great and in town it was even worse, however once The Albert with its perfectly kept Timothy Taylors Landlord was stumbled upon the starting point for any night out in town was found.
5. Caffreys (Keg) – Its now 1995 and Bass have brought out this cold smooth beer that tastes of something and you get merry on it much quicker and despite the terrible feeling the morning after the original Caffreys at 4.8% was and still is the only creamflow ale that I have ever stomached, I loved it during the summer of ’95.
6. Theakstons XB (cask) – fast forward to my first pub management and my choice on premium cask was Directors or XB but for brand standards the Courage had to dispensed without a sparkler in Yorkshire. Hence XB as Theakstons was dispensed regionally and I loved it.
7. Summer Lightning (cask) – As the Millennium approached the pubs of West Yorkshire were still dominated by John Smiths & Bass, national pub chains and smooth was kicking in. The regionals of Sheep & Taylors were taking up all the guest space and choice was limited. However the glimmer of today was on the rise as I found places that sold beer that tasted differently, the best two I remember were Summer Lightening & Red MacGregor, they were great and led me to want to find more and different beers to Yorkshire bitter.
8. Gulpener Korenwolf (bottle) – After leaver ScotCo I went to Bass and from the staff shop allowance it was Carling that everyone went for. However I was blown away by my first wheat beer – Gulpener Korenwolf and used my allowance on that every month and led me on to other wheat beers for a good few years.
9. Deuchars IPA (cask) – It was now the 21st century and a trip to Scotland for Hogmanay was marked by discovering what was to become a phenomenon – Deuchers IPA. Superb beer and one that I happily drunk for a couple of years as after the CAMRA win it was everywhere, so much that ScotCo bought it and knackered it up.
10. Belgian Beer (all) – Next was a mini-cruise to Brugge and that’s when my tastes were blown and my eyes opened. It’s hard to pin to one beer but those I vaguely remember from that 6 hours in Brugge were De Garre house beer, Gulden Draak, Tripel Karmeliet and the seasonal Stille Nachte. All still must buys when I go to Belgium (which is most years).
11. Ossett Silver King (cask) – UK craft as we know it hadn’t yet started but the local cask ale choice was ever improving, the first beer I remember that I had to try wherever I went was from a local brewery. It was pin bright, looked like a lager but what a taste – Ossett Silver King was a go to beer in the early noughties.
12. Summer Wine (cask) – I don’t remember much making an impression for the next 5 years until a new local brewery opened just down the road from me. It’s late 2008 and Summer Wine Brewery all of a sudden knock out some beers that I’ve never seen the likes of and I drunk and loved them all. Craft was beginning.
13. Magic Rock Dark Arts (cask) – It seemed we were lucky in Huddersfield in the late noughties The Grove opened, The Sportsman opened we had a couple of breweries in Summer Wine & Mallinsons taking up guest spots in pubs then this new brewery opened in my mates father-in laws business car park and was going to brew the next big thing. Everyone loved the pale stuff but for me the best cask stout I’ve had still to this day is Dark Arts and a go to beer whenever I see it.
14. Liverpool Organic Russian Imperial (cask) – I’d always loved stouts and the 6% Dark Arts took me down the stronger road. A trip to Liverpool led me to Liverpool Organic Russian Imperial Stout on cask. Sublime and I loved it and still the beer I measure cask Imperial stouts to.
15. Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen (bottle) – By now winter #BeerHolidays were a permanent thing for me and I loved drinking beer across Eastern Europe. A trip to Germany provides beer 15 and the best beer in the world – Schlenkerla. I’ve not been to Bamberg yet but I will get there.
16. Gaffel Kolsch (keg) – On the same Germany trip Kolsch was discovered. And despite the small glasses and the over the top-ness of the bar staff the 4 hours I sat in Gaffel house are still amongst one of the best days ever. 44 ticks on the drip mat and every single one was superb (not all mine – I think).
17. Red Willow Faithless number? (cask) – Craft was well and truly up and running, I liked the stuff but never blown away by the HyPeAyes. I always prefer the malt and yeast to dominate over the hops and still do but one beer I remember well and meant I am still a big fan of theirs was Red Willow Faithless, I don’t know which number it was but it must have been early numbers. A 7.3% IPA on cask, it is still remembered now (vaguely I’m sure it was over 7% anyway).
18. Unpasteurised Czech Beer (keg) – It must be about 2012 now, Craft is on the march, there are divisions in the beer drinking scene and I’ve just discovered beer Twitter proving I am not down with the cool kids with what I drink. Also I’m on a plane to Prague. I’m drinking unpasteurised Budvar (light and dark), Urquell, Beer X33 and everything that Pivovarsky Dum are brewing for 4 days solid and never felt better. I also now have a drink I want to drink when it’s not cask ale weather in the UK.
19. Siren Broken Dream (cask) – IPA is everywhere, every bar line is wall to wall IPA or APA or full of hops and to me it all tastes the same. We have a festival at Stalybridge Buffet Bar, on the line-up is Breakfast Stout from Siren on cask. Perfect for me and another pint I can still remember vividly, the one which all the new versions of stout are measured by to me and still the one that nothing has got close to yet.
20. North Riding Mosaic (cask) – At some point maybe a couple of years ago I’d fallen out of love with cask. It all tasted the same, the flavours were becoming boring, everything was pine resin, citrus fruits and zesty and there was little to tell one from another apart from condition. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d drunk from a beer and then looked at the pint and said wow that’s good. Enter North Riding Mosaic, and I say wow to it every time I drink it. Best drinking cask in the country at the moment.
21. Greek Amstel (keg) – A pint I remember so well – Pint of Amstel in a frozen glass in Rhodes Town looking at a thermometer displaying it to be 47 degrees in the sun, best pint I’ve ever had.