My love affair with beer...

Friday, 5 August 2016

Check out the picture below; That's me at the back on the right, in my late teens... with a can of Carling in my hand. Yep, a can of Carling Lager.

Now no offence to anyone who enjoys a can of that particular tipple, but that sort of thing just doesn't get my motor running these days.

But as you can see, like most men in England, my early love of beer began with tinned lager. I'm not even sure I liked the taste to be honest but I damn sure liked the way it made me feel! So when a group of mates got together the night would invariably involve some rapid drinking of whatever lager the local off-license had cheapest, normally sat in the local park or around a friend's house.

Then as we got to eighteen we'd venture into the nearest pub to partake in a few pints of whatever they had to offer. Growing up in the west country Cider was readily available and is something that I've always enjoyed, although I also learnt at an early age that genuine Somerset Cider (Scrumpy) was not to be messed with!

As tastes developed I started discovering a life away from fizzy alcohol, especially when I discovered the creamy joys of Boddingtons and Caffreys. It was also around this time that I learned that whilst moving in rugby circles (and the inevitable 'necking' of pints) that bitters were a lot easier to drink quickly. These years also coincided with going away to university where my choice of drink was generally whatever was cheapest.

Once I'd left university and struck out into working life I really started to drink; Friday nights featuring premium bottled lagers, shots (slippery nipple anyone?), turbo shandies (half a lager and a Smirnoff Ice) and JD and Coke were the norm. But I was still along way away from being a connoisseur.

Then as I reached my late twenties and moved back to Somerset I discovered some of the local beers and then really started to appreciate the joys of good quality ales. In particular I remember going to an evening racing meet that was sponsored by Bath Ales and revelling in the range of beers and the different tastes they offered. My eyes were opened!

But it was to get better.

In early 2010 I relocated to Southsea and was immediately struck by the quality of the pubs and the range of beers that were on offer. The Belle Isle in particular became a firm favourite, along with The Wine Vaults. Since then I've had a chance to discover some of the amazing well established premises (Wine Vaults, Leopold Tavern, Hole in the Wall and many more) as well as watch as new and exciting venues joined the exciting Southsea beer scene (Wave Maiden, Meat and Barrel, Brewhouse and Kitchen etc etc).

If I had to pick a favourite style, I'd have to admit that I'm a sucker for an American Pale Ale, but also very partial to more traditional English styled IPAs as well as stouts and porters. I guess it depends on what mood I'm in, if I'm eating (and what I'm eating), the weather, the company I'm with, the choices available... the variables are endless! I'll try most things once but if I'm honest I'm yet to find a sour beer that I'd be desperate to go back to... but that's not to say I've given up on them completely!

My last six years in Southsea have really kick started my beer education but I feel I'm only scratching the surface and can't wait to carry on my learning; hopefully you'll enjoy it with me!


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