The Session #63 – The Beer Moment

The SessionThis months Session is being hosted by Pete Brown "The Beer Drinker’s Bill Bryson" and the topic is The Beer Moment.

While I’ve had plenty of beer moments, I have a memory like a sieve, so would be hard pressed to remember many. Mostly beer moments are fleeting, it’s all about the time and the place, the people you’re with and obviously the beer. They come, they go, I appreciate them when they happen, but I don’t dwell on them.

Since it’s all about the time and the place, can you plan a beer moment and have it all sketched out in advance? Or are they ephemeral and of the moment, unable to be planned?

I hope they are a bit of both, while the unplanned ones are a joy when they materialise, I have a beer moment that I want to happen, that I’m clinging to for dear life. We’re having a load of building work done on the house, it feels like it’s been happening forever, as it took eighteen months to get it through planning and they broke ground last October, on what was supposed to be a four month build.

All the upheaval, the noise, the dust, the ruined garden, the triple glazed argon filled composite windows, the under floor heating, the (not quite as fancy as we really wanted) kitchen, the stress, the financial burden of trying to get what we want, not just what we can afford. It’s all taking its toll, but the light at the end of my tunnel is a beer moment.

The moment when my wife and I sit in the new extension on a balmy summers evening, with the double doors wide open, looking out over the ruined garden to the paddocks beyond and share a beer. At this point I don’t care what beer, although a Pyraser Hopfenpflücker Pils would certainly hit the spot, it’s just about sitting there and forgetting all the stress and worry and just appreciating what our hard work has enabled us to build for our future.

The thought of this beer moment is keeping me going every time I get home to the dust and grit that has invaded every nook and cranny in the house. Every time a new problem arises and a delay occurs, every time a new quote comes in that makes me wince, I think of the beer moment that awaits at the end of it. I don’t know how far away this beer moment is, a couple of weeks, a month or two, at who knows? But when I it does arrive, I hope it’s as good as the one that’s in my head.

The Session #59 – I Almost Always Drink Beer, But When I Don’t…

The SessionThis months Session is being hosted by Mario Rubio at Brewed For Thought and the topic is I almost always drink beer, but when I don’t….

I don’t think I’m limitited in what I drink, but I suppose other people probably do, especially my wife. During the day at work, I drink water. When I’m at home, I’ll drink pints of Rocks OJ, or if I’ve run out, just plain water. I don’t do hot drinks, no coffee, no tea and certainly no hot chocolate. I also don’t drink Coke, Pepsi, Fanta, Sprite, or equivalents, I’ve even given up drinking Irn Bru. Although I’ll admit to a nasty Red Bull (or cheaper equivalent product) habit, I’ve got to get caffeine somehow…

As far as alcoholic drinks go, it’s a similar story, I always drink beer. No wine, it makes me puke; much to my wife’s annoyance, as she’d love to share a bottle of wine with me when we’re out for a meal. No cider, I don’t like the taste, it’s either too sweet or two dry and I drank far too much Merrydown when I was fifteen. No whisky, I’ve tried for over twenty years to like it, but I’m just not a fan. I’ve pretty much tried all the other spirits, but I don’t really get on with them, it’s just not the same as dinking a pint of beer.

When faced wth a no beer, or a shite beer situation, I used to drink Guinness with a shot of Tia Maria in it; anything to improve the flavour. These days though, I tend to drink vodka and cranberry juice, although I found out at my recent work Christmas party, fresh grapefruit juice is quite nice, if there’s no cranberry. I pretty much wont consider anything else; after all, life’s too short to drink stuff you don’t like.

That makes it sound like I wont try anything new though, which isn’t the case. How can you know you don’t like something, unless you try it? I’ve tried a pints of Long Island Ice Tea at a beach front bar of a hotel in Banjul. I’ve had Singapore Slings in the Long Bar at Raffles. Russian vodka straight from the bottle while on the slopes of Mout Elbrus in the Caucusus. Génépi in the Italian Alps and Glenfarclas 105 chasers in a pub in Kingussie. I’ve tried…

I’ve tried other drinks, both long and short, but for my money, nothing beats a beer. There’s one for every occasion, for every location, for every meal, for when it’s hot, cold and every temperature inbetween. I don’t think I’m limited in what I drink, I think that I’m lucky, lucky that I enjoy the best drink that there is. To bastardise a popular song, nothing compares, nothing compares to beer.

The Session #58 – A Christmas Carol

The SessionThis months Session is being hosted by Phil Hardy at Beersay and the topic is A Christmas Carol. This should have been posted on Friday, but I was travelling to Paris. I could have auto posted it, but that would have involved actually writing it before the day it was due, which is not my style… The extra few days have given me time to think though and ponder on what the three ghosts that visited Ebenezer Scrooge would make of my past, present and future Christmas day beer drinking.

I can’t really remember what I used to drink on Christmas day before I was a beer geek. I suppose it was whatever my Dad bought from the local supermarket. That would probably be bottles of Duchars IPA, Cally 80/- or ale from other Scottish breweries. It wasn’t about the beer back then though, so it didn’t matter as long as it was wet, brown, alcoholic and not from a can.

Things changed a couple of years ago though, as I’d been introduced to Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel earlier in the year and I was so going to have a bottle of that on Christmas morning while opening the presents. This was a mistake, we drove up on the evening of the 23rd and the bottle got shaken up on the 7 hour drive. A single day wasn’t enough for it to settle, so I had a pint glass full of yeast lumps, which rather destroyed my enjoyment of it.

I have another bottle of Beer Geek Brunch Weasel in my cupboard, which I’d been saving for this Christmas day, along with a bottle of Amager Hr. Frederiksen and the collab brew between Mikkeller and Amager, Hr. Frederiksen Væsel Brunch. I was going to take notes and blog about them, but I’ve decided not to. As I alluded to in my last Session post, beer has become a bit of a dark obsession for me, I was going to do a further blog post on that, but I’ve not got round to it yet. So I’ve decided that spending bits of Christmas day ruminating and jotting down notes on beer isn’t the way forward. Christmas isn’t about beer, it’s about spending some quality time with those you love. Beer blogging can wait.

So this year, I’ve decided that I want something light and easy going, something that I can drink all day. Something that I don’t have to think about, something that I can just enjoy, while enjoying spending time with my family. So I’m going to pop into the Bacchanalia and buy a bucket load of Collective São Gabriel Brewers & Union Unfiltered Lager and Pyraser Hopfenpflücker Pils and I will enjoy myself.

But what about future Christmases? I have dreams of being a brewer, which is why I homebrew I suppose. Once our extension is finished and my brew shed is back in it’s correct place, I’ll be trying to brew once a month. Who’s to say that I wouldn’t brew a Christmas special, wither it be a pale and hoppy, an imperial stout or an imperial gooseberry and elderflower hefe. I might, or I might not, but what ever I do, it wont be to the detriment of my family. I wont be taking notes, blogging or generally being a beer geek, I have another 364 days of the year for that.

I suppose you could say that I don’t need a visit from Ebenezer’s ghosts, I’ve already know what my demons are and they are not going to ruin another Christmas.

The Session #57 – Beery Confessions: Guilty Secrets / Guilty Pleasure Beer

This months Session was supposed to be hosted by Pete Brown. Unfortunately, he had his laptop nicked from The Jolly Butchers a few weeks back, which included loads of work that he hadn’t backed up, so he’s a bit too busy at the moment. The Session Stepping in at the last minute to fill the breach is Steve Lamond from Beers I’ve Known. The topic he’s chosen is Beery Confessions: Guilty Secrets / Guilty Pleasure Beer.

To be honest I don’t have a guilty pleasure beer, there is nothing that I buy when I’m down and need lifting, or when I just want something that doesn’t make me think. I don’t have a beer that I feel guilty about drinking, or that I reach for when I just want a beer and that can sometimes be a problem. I might elucidate on why this is a problem in another post.

I do have guilty secrets though, plenty of dark and dangerously destructive secrets. I’m not going to go into too much detail in this post, that’s reserved for another one that I’m in the middle of writing. But just to give you a flavour of how bad things became, ponder on this.

When I was in Rome last year, each week for five weeks, I went with an empty suitcase and came home with the same suitcase full of Italian beer. I paid for it all on credit cards as I couldn’t really afford it, I didn’t tell my wife and sneaked the vast majority of it out to my shed when she was asleep, so should wouldn’t know I’d bought it.

How’s that for a guilty secret…?

guilt·y
adj. guilt·i·er, guilt·i·est

    1. Responsible for a reprehensible act; culpable.
    2. Law Found to have violated a criminal law by a jury or judge.
    3. Deserving blame, as for an error: guilty of misjudgment.
  1. Suffering from or prompted by a sense of guilt: a guilty conscience.
  2. Suggesting or entailing guilt: a guilty smirk; a guilty secret. See Synonyms at blameworthy.

When I was stuck in a rut, I suppose I was after something safe, a known quantity, something that wouldn’t let me down. I’ve gone from drinking the same stuff week in week out, to hardly ever having the same beer twice, homebrew excepted. I’m guilty of having morphed from a beer drinker into an obsessive beer geek, who has to have the latest, greatest and rarest, what ever the cost.

To bastardise Claude Monet; Beer is my day-long obsession, joy and torment. Unfortunately, my current guilty secret, is that at the moment, beer is more of a torment than a joy.

The Session #52: Beer Collectibles & Breweriana

This months Session is being hosted by Brian Stechschulte at All Over Beer and the topic is Beer Collectibles & Breweriana

The SessionAfter missing the last couple of sessions due to various reasons, my heart sank when I saw the topic for this months topic. I’ve always associated breweriana with sad old men trading faded beer mats, or rather obsessive geeks who fill their houses with empty cans. I know this is a terrible generalisation, but the only stories you ever see in main stream media seem to back up this view, see this article as an example.

I’ve been racking my brains for the last few weeks trying to work out if I have any breweriana or not. To start with I was pretty sure I had none, but now I’m not so sure, here’s a list of what I think I’ve got around the place:

  • Box of assorted beer festival pint glasses, each carefully wrapped up in paper to avoid damage
  • Castlemaine XXXX beer mat that a friend mailed from Australia instead of a postcard
  • Two Milton Brewery pump clips from the two poly-pins of beer we had at our wedding
  • A, now, empty 1L beer bottle from U Fleků that I brought back on the plane, when you could still do that, after a weekend away in Prague
  • A Thornbridge pint glass that I liberated from The Euston Tap, it was actually given to me by Tim Anderson, the winner of Master Chef when I asked if I could have one
  • An empty 2.2kg tub High5 Energy Source, that is currently three quarters full of branded bottle caps

I started off thinking that I wasn’t a collector of any beery paraphernalia, but now I’ve listed everything I’m quite surprised by how much stuff I’ve got hanging around not doing anything. If I am a collector, it’s more of an unconscious collecting, rather than a proper planned out hobby. I doubt I’ll ever reach the geeky heights of people like banker Nick West, my wife would never let me for starters. I can see me hoarding to occasional item though, especially when it has a bit of sentimental value.

Edit:
I’ve just remembered that I also have one of those finger shredding BrewDog key rings. Plus I have a Flying Dog Raging Bitch and a Brooklyn Lager keg clip, which I’m going to turn into key rings.

Edit:
As I read everyone else’s contributions to this months session, I keep remembering things I’ve got, or things I’ve done in the past. During lunch I remembered the key rings, see the edit above, then reading a tweet from BeerReviewsAndy, I remembered that I also have empty bottles of BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink The Bismark!. They sit on a shelf in my shed, the one I do all my homebrew in, probably as a reminder to not be sucked in by marketing again.
https://twitter.com/#!/BeerReviewsAndy/status/76632712693288962

Then when I read Brian Stechschulte’s contribution, I remembered that I used to collect beer bottle labels when I was a student at university. I did it to remind me what beers I’d drunk, I had quite a collection and was even scanning them into stick on my website. That was way back in 1996 and it’s not something I’ve done for years. I did find a load of the labels last Autumn, they were stuffed in between the pages of a book on how to learn Italian. Looking at them brought back lots of memories, like the time I shared a couple of bottles on a train from Milano to Padova with an Italian solider on his way home for some leave.

I said earlier that I didn’t think I had any Breweriana and that I didn’t collect anything. I find it quite funny that I’ve actually been collecting breweriana of one form or another for practicality my entire beer drinking life without realising it.

The Session #49: Regular Beer

This months Session is being hosted by Stan Hieronymous at Appellation Beer and the topic is A ‘regular’ beer.

I was out with friends last night, we went to a number of pubs to the North of Cambridge city centre. It was a bit hit and miss if I’m being honest, but I managed to try eight different beers, all of which you could say were regular beers. In the UK a regular beer is most likely to be defined by most drinkers as a session beer, something they’ll have multiple pints of down the pub, or a few bottles of at home.

The SessionSo what is regular beer? Is it the beer you drink regularly, your favourite pint down the pub, the one that you drink every time you see it. Or is a regular beer one that isn’t extreme, doesn’t have weird ingredients and is to most people, normal?

For a beer geek though, I don’t think there is such thing as a regular beer in either sense. We seem to seek out the new, the novel, the weird and the downright strange. That’s not to say that we don’t have our favourites though. Those beers that we have every now and again, that sit at the back of the cupboard for when we just fancy a beer, with out having to think.

But that’s the thing, it’s an occasional thing, we’re too busy trying new beers left right and centre to be drinking the same beer regularly. Even our go to beer is probably not thought of as being a normal beer by non geeks. I doubt most beer drinkers in the UK would consider Marble Dobber, at 5.9% to be a normal beer, it’s far too high in ABV for the majority of session beer drinkers to even consider.

I don’t want to drink normal beer though, I’m not sure I even want to drink the same beer regularly, I’m too obsessed with what I haven’t had before. The whole reason I started this blog was because I’d fallen into a rut, I was drinking the same beers all the time, there was no variety and as we all know, variety is the spice of life. So I don’t really have a regular, normal beer, if I did though, it would probably be either Marble Dobber or HardKnott Infra Red, cracking beers both.

The Session #48: Dispense Doesn’t Matter

This months Session is being hosted by the Reluctant Scooper and the topic is Cask, Keg, Can, Bottle: Does dispense matter?.

When this session was announced, I was quite excited. I initially thought I’d try and track down a beer that is sold on all forms of dispense and compare them. Unfortunately, there appears to be no-one in the UK that currently does this with the same beer.

The SessionBoth Adnams Bitter and I think, Fuller’s London Pride, are available in cask, keg, bottle and can, but the strength of the beer differs depending on the dispense, so they don’t really count. Some brewers have the same beer available, at the same strength in cask, keg and bottle, both BrewDog and Thornbridge spring to mind here, although there are probably a few more, but they don’t can their beer.

This put me at a bit of a loss, if I couldn’t write about a single beer what could I write about? I could make this the shortest article ever, by just saying, no, dispense doesn’t matter, as long as the beer being dispensed is good. But I have more to say than just that, maybe enough to say, that multiple blog posts would be better than what’s below, but I digress.

There seems to me to be a difference in perception about some forms of dispense in the UK, that’s different to most other countries. This is mainly due to the prevalence of cask conditioned beer in this country. Kegged and canned beer are thought to be the bastard inbred cousins of cask and bottles and are thus shunned by a lot of real ale drinkers as being inferior.

Mikkeller Green GoldIs this perception really warranted though…? It’s very hard to say, that no, it isn’t warranted, when you walk down the beer aisle in any supermarket and it’s stacked high with cans of mass produced industrial lager and smooth flow versions of previously decent cask ales and not a lot else. It’s also very hard to say, that no, it isn’t warranted, when you walk into a pub and all the cask ales on offer are bland, boring, brown session beer, that hasn’t been looked after and tastes of vinegar.

I think the main reason why this perception exists is due to the product that is being put into the various forms of dispense. The vast, vast majority of keg beer in the UK is, for me, a mass produced undrinkable excuse for a beer, it’s totally vile. Similarly with canned beer, the vast, vast majority is the same mass produced undrinkable excuse for a beer that’s sold via keg. Real ale dispensed from cask on the other hand, is, with a few exceptions obviously, normally very, very good, at least where I drink it is. Similarly, the bottled beer I buy, while it’s not cask, can be just as enthralling to drink.

Redemption HopspurHowever, I know for a fact, that kegged beer can be just as good as casked beer. I spent a bit of time in Rome last year and frequented Brasserie 4:20, Bir and Fud, Open Baladin and Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fa’, all of which serve fantastic kegged beer. The vast majority of the beer I drank was from those kegs and it was produced by some of Europe’s most progressive and highly thought of brewers. I don’t think I had a bad glass during my whole time there and the vast majority of the beer I tried, was simply phenomenal.

I have also drank kegged beer at The Euston Tap and at Cask Pub and Kitchen, both of which are in London and both of which offer an amazing variety of cask beer as well. Again I’ve not had a bad one and some have been truly outstanding. Similarly, I had cask beer from both these establishments that was simply jaw dropping, a testament to the combined skill of the brewer and the love shown by the cellar man.

As far quality beer in a can though, it was only the other day that I got to try my first taste. The Caldera Pale Ale was perfectly pleasant, but just like Rogue’s Juniper Pale Ale, it left me wanting. The Caldera IPA on the other hand was a revelation, quality, tasty beer in a can, I’ll have to buy some more. Tasting it, was for me, the final nail in the coffin of the question posed for this months session. So to answer the question, no, dispense doesn’t matter, as long as the beer being dispensed is good.

Caldera IPASo why are we even having a debate about the different forms of dispense, when really, it’s the beer that’s inside the container that that we should be discussing? I think it’s just that in the UK at least, there hasn’t been any quality keg or cans, so they have an image problem. CAMRA have been, rightly, banging on that cask is best for years, but now that there is good quality beer in kegs and soon to be quality beer in cans, from UK breweries, cask no longer contains the best beer by default.

I for one, am looking forward to trying good quality beer from all from of dispense, especially from cans and the new fangled "real keg", because dispense doesn’t matter, it’s the beer inside the container that matters.

The Session #47 – Tempura Vegetables

This months Session is being hosted by Dave Jensen at Beer 47 and the topic is Cooking With Beer.

The SessionI’ll start by saying that I don’t really cook with beer that much, it always seems like such a waste of good beer. I can never bring myself to buy a crappy beer to cook with either, what’s the point? If I’m going to cook with the stuff, I want to cook with the best, but I’d rather drink the best, hence it’s a bit of a catch 22 and I end up drinking it all.

Recently, I’ve been using a botched batch of homebrew to cook with though, there’s about an inch and a half of yeast at the bottom of each bottle, so it’s not the nicest to drink. As it was supposed to be a clone of Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild, it’s got a solid malty backbone that’s worked very well in puff pastry wrapped veggie sausage mix, as part of a Sunday roast.

If I’d been organised I’d have cooked something with beer in it days ago and written it up, but I haven’t. I did think about dredging up a photo of the veggie sausage mix, but I thought I should really use the opportunity to do something new. I did think about doing a fake stake and ale pie, which I’ve never done before, with the ale being Newcastle Brown. I was given a couple of bottles for Christmas, but it’s such appalling crap, that I’ll save my taste buds and just keep it for use in slug traps during the summer.

I then remembered that my greatest cooking with beer triumph was probably some beer battered cod I did years ago when I was still eating fish. I’d managed to cook it perfectly, the batter was nice and crisp and the fish melted in the mouth, happy days. Also, using beer in batter is so easy, normally you’d use ice cold fizzy water, so ice cold fizzy beer is a simple replacement.

Since I don’t east fish any more (we need to stop raping our seas), I needed something else to batter, so my wife suggested doing tempura vegetables, which we haven’t made at home for what seems like years. But what beer to make the batter with? Something like the Newcastle Brown Ale would be too dark and besides as I’ve already said, it’s horrendous stuff. I needed something light and spritzy that wouldn’t darken the batter too much, but most importantly, something that I wouldn’t mind drinking along side the tempura.

I suddenly thought of using Adnams Spindrift, which at 4% ABV, is a light, spritzy, golden summery beer, made with East Anglian malted barley, Boadicea and First Gold hops and high grade malted wheat. It’s also very easy to get hold of round these parts, after all, you just need to head East for an hour or so and you hit Southwold.

All you need to do tempura veg is 200 grams of plain flour, 100 grams of corn flour and enough icy cold beer to mix with the flour until it’s the consistency of double cream. Then grab a load of vegetables; pepper, broccoli, carrot, courgette, aubergine, sweet potato, baby corn, mange tout, onion, whole spring onion, in fact you can use just about anything. Dip the veg into the batter, then deep fry until it’s golden and consume as quickly as possible.

To be honest, I don’t think using beer for tempura batter is the best use for your beer, especially a light a fruity number like Spindrift. Neither my wife nor I could detect any beery flavours in the batter, although I thought the beer actually went quite well as a pairing. It couldn’t quite wipe all the sweet chilli sauce from the mouth, bit it refreshed it enough so I got full benefit from the next mouthful. Maybe a stronger flavoured brown ale would have been a better choice after all, I just couldn’t bring myself to cook with crap beer…

The Session #46 – Bir & Fud

This months Session is being hosted by Mike Lynch at Burgers and Brews and the topic is An Unexpected Discovery: Finding Great Beer in the Last Place You’d Look.

The first time I went to university, it was a bit of a disaster, too much Harviestoun Ptarmigan and not enough studying. I was lucky to get a second chance and even luckier to be accepted onto the Erasmus European university exchange scheme. I didn’t get my first choice, which was somewhere nears the Alps in France, I got Padova in Italy. I had a great time, I didn’t bother with lectures I just travelled around having adventures and drinking beer.

The SessionUnfortunately, the Italian beer was pretty rubbish, with a few exceptions. At the time it was mostly industrial light lager produced by Peroni and Moretti, or similar from other European breweries. There was the odd gem, like Morretti La Rossa, but for the most part it was pretty dire. If we fast forward over the intervening years to the present, earlier this year I found myself back in Italy for five weeks. The company I work for were doing a project with a well know religious organisation and I found myself on the front line in Rome.

To be honest, I was a bit dubious about what beer I would find, at that point I didn’t know of the existence of the new wave of Italian craft beer. There was also the small matter of all my work colleagues, none of whom were into their beer, so they were all more concerned about where to get good food, rather than good beer. The first night I thought I should really play the team game and went out with everyone else, I had to suffer some average pasta and drink Moretti, horrible stuff.

The second night I decided that I would head out on my own, I used the excuse that they were all going to a fish restaurant and as I don’t eat fish, I’d do my own thing. It had been a long day, we’d been in the office for twelve hours or so and I needed a rest and a beer. I looked up a few places on RateBeer and decided to walk to one called Bir & Fud (which is pronounced Beer & Food in Italian), mainly as it was the nearest.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I wearily pushed the door open, but I certainly wasn’t expecting what lay before me. On the left a bar with a row of shining taps, in front a few tables and a path leading to a back room with loads of tables. The place was pretty deserted, so I got a table with no problems, I was a bit annoyed with myself though as I’d left my book back at the apartment.

One of the staff approached and in my basic Italian discovered that he didn’t speak much English, but we managed to somehow work out between us that I’d like something hoppy. He promptly returned with my first Italian craft beer and I was hit for six out of the park. Yes, I was tired, yes, I was probably a bit dehydrated, but the hop monster that was sliding down my throat was like mana from heaven. I really thought he given me some 7 – 8% Double IPA, it was resinous and bitter and at that point in space and time, just perfectly sublime.

Coupled with this phenomenal beer, I had also ordered a mozzarella and potato pizza and the two went together like they had been made for each other. I later found out that the beer was Ducato Bia IPA and was a mere 5.5%. It didn’t matter what the ABV was though, I was in love and not just with the beer, the pizza was the best that I have ever eaten. By the time I left, there wasn’t a free seat in the place and a constant flow of people were being turned away.

I wasn’t expecting much and I was totally bowled off my feet. The majority of my remaining time in Rome was spent eating my dinner here, it’s a wonderful establishment. There are other great places in Rome to eat and drink, but my favourite will always be Bir & Fud. The best thing though, is that my work are having their annual Christmas party in Rome this year. So this time next week, you’ll find me in Bir & Fud eating a mozzarella and potato pizza and getting slowly inebriated on amazing Italian beer.

The Session #45 – Wheat Beer Availability in Cambridge Supermarkets

The title makes this post sound like it’s a thesis or something, it’s not, it’s my first post for The Session, a.k.a. Beer Blogging Friday. If you’re not familiar with The Session, then head off here to learn more:

The SessionThis months topic is, Wheat Beers, which just happen to be one of my favourite styles of beer. When I first moved to Cambridge, I drink an obscene amounts of Hoegaarden, it was about £3.20 a pint, almost twice as expensive as all the cask ale on offer at the local Hogshead. I thought I was being cool and trendy, in reality I was being royally ripped off by InterBrew, for what is essentially an average beer.

I don’t get to the pub much these days, so the majority of my wheat beer drinking is confined to the couch. While it’s not as social as the pub, I can at least drink what I want, up to a point. While I’m not constrained by whatever the publican has in stock, I am constrained by what I can buy locally, which for the majority of people, means the supermarket.

Cambridge isn’t particularly blessed when it comes to supermarket choice, we have far, far too many Tesco stores. Of the big four supermarkets, that would be Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, we have all but a Morrisons in Cambridge, the nearest one is 20 minutes drive to the West, not really practical if you’re on Shanks’ Pony or a bike. By far the best supermarket in town, in my opinion, is Waitrose, the quality of the food is better, as is the extensive range of beer. So how do these supermarkets rank as far as wheat beer availability goes?

Tesco
Hoegaarden Witbier
Tesco Finest* Belgian Wheat Beer
Erdinger Weißbier
Paulaner Hefe-Weißbier
Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier
ASDA
Hoegaarden Witbier
Erdinger Weißbier
Sainsbury’s
Erdinger Weißbier
Schneider Weisse TAP7 Unser Original
Grolsch Weizen
Edelweisse Wheat Beer
Hoegaarden Witbier
Weihenstephan Hefe Weissbier
Waitrose
Hoegaarden Witbier
Erdinger Weißbier
Witrose Bavarian Weissbier
Witrose Bavarian Dunkel Weissbier

Sainsbury’s has the largest selection, but as you can see, there is quite a bit of duplication going on, if you’re a fan of Hoegaarden or Erdinger, then you’re in luck no matter where you shop. It’s interesting to note how few Belgian wheat beers there are, they’re mostly German style, which is a shame as I’m quite partial to a Belgian Wit.

Of course, you could just shop locally and avoid the supermarket like the plague. The Bacchanalia on Mill Road is one of the best beer shops in the country and has an amazing selection of beer from around the world. The selection changes as deliveries come and go, but there is always a great selection of wheat beers from the UK and abroad.