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The Best Pint Ever

by Helen Mon Mar 11th, 2013 at 09:25:11 AM EST

Surely everybody has one, not a favourite beer which they happily order every time they see it, but that one pint which has left an especial golden glow in your memory.


I’ve been drinking an awful long time and several candidates push themselves forward; that first revelatory pint of Timothy Taylors Landlord at (the much missed) Saddleworth Beer Festival, back when it really was the best beer in the country, or perhaps it was a truly extraordinary pint of Wadworths 6X at Crawley beer festival back in 1985, or maybe an amazing pint of Crouch Vale Best Bitter which I can taste even yet. But when all is said and done, I find I have two beers where I cannot elevate one above the other; both are, for different reasons, my best beer memories ever.

Barnsley Bitter at The Wenlock Arms.

I don’t know where I’d been but I was drifting through London on a late Sunday afternoon and just popped into the Wenlock to have a swift pint before going home.

Anyone who knew the pub can picture the dust covered scene; about 6 or 7 punters arranged at various grimy tables, nursing pints. Even when it was newly opened in the early 90s, a visitor would have to have been charitable to have described it as merely “shabby”, 15 years later, the pub felt like a time-worn armchair, worn, patched, re-patched but somehow.. just right.

I asked what was good and somebody suggested “you should try the Barnsley bitter, it’s going down well”. This was answered by nodded assent from other tables. I approached it as any normal pint, had a good swig before arranging myself and then stopped, because somewhere close by a large choir had started singing the Hallelujah chorus.

I had something special in my hands. Even though I’d had this beer before, nothing prepared me for this. A little drop of amber perfection. I beamed a smile and somebody said “yea, it’s pretty good isn’t it” and chuckled. It might have been me.

That pint came and went as did a few others. People came into the pub but, once they’d had the Barnsley, they didn’t leave. We were trapped by it, bewitched by it. We knew we’d not taste its like again. And so we stayed, on into the evening, quietly enjoying that once in a lifetime’s experience.

The barrel ran out at 9:00 and I managed to nurse my last pint for another 10 minutes before leaving. The pub was emptying anyway, the spell had been broken.

Last Rites at Bamberg

It was Sunday, our last day in Bamberg in 99 and we’d been to a festival up at the Griefenklau brewery and had returned into town quite late. So late that we didn’t even know if the Schlenkerla brewery tap was still open.

Fortunately a push at the door and we were in. It was late and the main beer hall had been closed so that the 20 or so remaining punters were clustered into the smaller side bar. Beer was taken: Rauschbier; dark, smoky, mysterious. Contentment ensued.

However, with the clock well past midnight the barman called out (in English)“How many of you will want another beer ? This barrel is finished and I would like to know if it is worth starting another”. 15 hands were raised and so the barman disappeared while we formed an orderly queue.

This beer was fizz-gogglingly fresh, fruity and truly joyous; one of those rare barrels which is Just.That. Little. Bit. More. Everyone seemed to sense this and as we sat back to enjoy this unexpected treat, a quiet late night bar became a hubbub of shared pleasured conversations. Close friends were made, never to be seen again. I think we were finally rolled out into the night about an hour later, but the memory of that beer will last me a lifetime.

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by god she's good, when she's on a roll.

Stop it! You're making me thirsty!

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 11:05:16 AM EST
I think we have to talk about context. If it were possible to allow you exactly the same sip of Barnsley in a contextually anechoic surrounding, you wouldn't recognize it.

You change, the beer changes, the location changes, the time changes. Just hold your nose and all bets are off. By chance, these cycles of change, or changorhythms, if you will, happen to coincide.

It's what many artists refer to as the Magic. The Magic is when everything is just right for you and where you are, and who you are with at the time. Any striving musician will recognize those special gigs where everything comes together and gives you the euphoric behaviour reinforcement that makes you want to do it again.

It rarely happens by will. It cannot be planned. But one can make oneself available to the possibilities of the Magic.

And even a wine drinker can recognize that the more we soak in the total beer experience provided by Helen, the more we understand that this Salon is about the Magic.

We cannot share that beer, but we can, in the right circumstances, share the Magic..

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 12:08:39 PM EST
My best beers have been quaffed when I was hot, tired, and very thirsty. They included one or more Pabst Blue Ribbons, Lone Stars, and Schmidt's Tiger Head Ale.

Having had one or more too many bad beers, I now go for consistency. In my area it's Full Sail (an ESOP) Amber Ale and several offerings from the Deschutes Brewery - notably Black Butte (pronounced with a long u) Porter and their IPA.

I've had a few local beers at odd places in my travels that were worth remembering, but I didn't.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 12:19:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When I was 17... a pint of Riding near Wakefield - a beer which seems to be ungoogleable, so I can't verify any details. It wasn't a micro-brew, but it had the magic...

Sometime later that year - Old Peculier in York.

But most magical I think was Brass Monkey Stout in Perth, Australia.

http://www.thebrassmonkey.com.au

Age 27 or so, I'd arrived a mere day or two before - to live at least a year there...
It was just perfect, sitting in the shade, here was a stout that was perfectly balanced.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 03:24:26 PM EST
Riding bitter from the Mansfield brewery. I only ever saw it on keg, so I can't comment

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Feb 1st, 2013 at 03:30:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I still miss the dark lager we drank in Prague.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2013 at 02:50:55 PM EST
Sadly, I can't think of an equivalent from elsewhere. The nearest, duchesse de borgogne, is too sweet and a bit more sour.

But yes, it was good wasn't it ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sun Feb 17th, 2013 at 03:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Back in the 80's There was a Rhineland Lager called Konigsbacher Much was drunk when visiting. However it's been taken over and just isn't the same.

The now elderly priest who had a house next to the field where we stayed has said that the pint is now rubbish and he's had to switch to  something else.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 20th, 2013 at 03:11:03 PM EST
I agree with those who say it's a matter of context.

After a noon class about a decade ago, a friend and I walked through the snow to a basement bar. We were the only ones inside that early in the day, but it was warm in there. They had just tapped a keg of Anchor Steam's Old Foghorn Barleywine.

We enjoyed the best beer we had ever had.

I've had Old Foghorn again several times, and it really isn't as good as I remembered it that day, but that drink certainly sticks in my memory. Maybe because they poured it into a frothy cold mug, whereas Barleywine is regularly poured into what looks like a Cognac glass when I order it now.

by Upstate NY on Mon Mar 4th, 2013 at 10:29:19 AM EST
[ET Moderation Technology™]

Bumped for visibility.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Mar 11th, 2013 at 09:25:53 AM EST
a budweiser in a bottle in Czech republic about 18 years ago.

i wonder what this is like

The Ale That Men Brew: Iron Maiden Serves Up A Beer : The Two-Way : NPR

Three decades after giving the world The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden is poised to release its latest work -- and it's a beer. That's the latest from the Metal Injection website, whose "Bands and Booze" section makes it uniquely qualified to present such news.

The band collaborated with Robinsons, an English brewery with roots in the 19th century, to create what lead singer Bruce Dickinson calls "our special secret-squirrel recipe for Trooper Ale." Robinsons is also well-known for making ales such as Old Tom and Unicorn.

"As a fan of traditional English cask beer, I thought this could actually be something really exciting," Dickinson says in a video announcing the beer's pending release. "We could actually develop a proper, real, long-term beer."



"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Mar 13th, 2013 at 09:35:00 PM EST
If I ever see it, I'll let you know but I think it's a pretty standard light brown beer

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Fri Mar 15th, 2013 at 12:18:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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