Have Beer

Have Beer

imageSomeone sent me beer, that is to say, "ale," the other day. I'm not quite sure how to feel about this, as I've never received alcohol in the mail - from a stranger, no less - but as a colleague of mine suggested, I decided to drink first and ask questions later.

First, about the beer: It's apparently English. It came in a selection of pint bottles with names like Fiddler's Elbow and Yorkshire Ale. Not a Bud in sight. There were also a couple of bottles of the hilariously branded Monty Python's Holy **ail Ale, which (whoever you are, Mr. Beer Sender) was exactly the right thing to send to get me to try an English ale.

I've heard the complaint from my English colleagues a number of times: American beer tastes like watered-down piss. And, to be honest, some of it does. (Old Milwaukee, I'm looking at you. Don't even get me started on "light" beers.) Whenever I go to the bar, if I'm not drinking scotch or bourbon, I'm drinking Guinness. It's more filling and tastes like ... well, something. Not "great" though. (Beer shouldn't taste "great." It's beer, for ... anyway.)

A friend of mine from the Austin days (ah, the Dog & Duck Pub, how I miss thee), who was a fellow Guinness enthusiast, once described to me his trip to Ireland. He said he traveled to a small town just outside of Dublin and ordered a Guinness at the local pub. He thought for sure he'd be bowled over by the experience, knowing as he did the dark brew's reputation for not traveling well. But here, at long last, a few scant miles from the brewery, he was convinced he'd finally get the Guinness that Almighty Arthur intended.

The bartender poured him his pint (taking care to pour it in layers), then put it aside to settle. At which point he apologized to my friend, having recognized he was from The States. "It might not be what you're expecting, lad," said the bartender (who may or may not have actually said "lad"). "Wish it were better, but Guinness doesn't travel well, you see."

It was with this in mind that I cracked open my first bottle of the Holy **ail, which had traveled god knows how many miles on its journey to me. I didn't know quite what to expect, but, you Englishmen will be proud, I poured it into a pint glass and before taking a single drink had my mind quite literally blown wide open. The first thing I noticed was the ale's creamy head. (My, that's hard to type with a straight face. But it's true.) I could tell right away that I wasn't dealing with any ordinary beer. This was clearly ale, and a rich, creamy one at that.

My first noseful merely confirmed this, so once it had settled a bit I took a long pull - it was incredible. Honestly, I couldn't believe I'd never tried anything like that before. I drank the whole pint - warm - and wished I hadn't left the other at the office for the rest of Humidor to try.

The rest of the selection (yes I tried them all but one) held a few pleasant surprises, but none were as acceptable to my American palate as the Holy **ail, which may or may not be a good thing. Hopefully my English colleagues won't mock me too severely for preferring a campy promotional ale, but I mock them for less serious transgressions, so this may be a vain hope. Nevertheless, I'm now convinced that I've found a new hobby, if for no other reason than that the buzz from just a single pint of this stuff was quite pleasant. I now understand why Englishmen always appear to be so inebriated - they are.

So to you, Mr. Ale Sender Guy, whoever you are, I thank you, and curse you simultaneously. For as excited as I am by this new find, and the discovery that all those English twits I've encountered over the years aren't, in fact, daft, I'm going to have a hell of a time feeding my newly-developed habit. For in spite of the fact hat we've found ourselves in the information age, and the era of global commerce, for some reason English beer hasn't yet found its way onto the shelves of my local foodporium. Perhaps it doesn't travel well.

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You should be able to get stuff like Boddington's and Kilkenny at liquor stores. I've bought both in the U.S. before.

It has been brought to my attention that they do, in fact, offer Holy **ail at the local foodporium. I feel like Tiny Tim now. God bless us, everyone.

This is how you know you've hit the big time, when random shipments of alcohol show up addressed to you. I can only imagine what resulted in this fine gift...

*phone rings*

Fletcher: Russ Pitts, rock 'n roll gamer and man about town, this is Russ.

Random Beer-Giver: I HAVE BEER, WILL YOU BE FRIEND?

Fletcher: Sure thing, little buddy. Send a case on over. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go write on the Internet.

If only it were a Civ2 playing hottie. Then, my friend, I'd consider myself Big Time (on the internet).

Please note my friendship is also for sale for a case of tasty brew.

Fletch man, welcome to the world of beer. An underrated libation to be sure. I get frustrated with folks who bash american beer based on their experience with Budweiser, Sam Adams, etc. If I based my impression of German beer on Beck's or believed Stella Artois to be representative of Belgian beer I would surely come to similar conclusions. Fortunately, mid-sized breweries like Stone Brewing Company in San Diego, New Belgian Brewing Company in Colorado, Rogue Ales in Oregon, and Dogfish Head in Delaware are growing rapidly and make exquisite beer. Don't give up on american beer before you taste some of our premium stuff.

If you're going Micro, just down the road in North Carolina Red Oak brewery makes a fine Amber, and down I-85 in Atlanta, Sweetwater 420 is a tasty brew.

Dutty Yates:
Don't give up on american beer before you taste some of our premium stuff.

No worries, Dutty. I've long been a fan of American micro brews. But you have to admit, English ale is a whole other thing entirely.

Dutty Yates:
If I based my impression of German beer on Beck's or believed Stella Artois to be representative of Belgian beer I would surely come to similar conclusions.

I recently had the pleasure of being served beer by a belgian exchange student while I was sitting down at the belgian beer cafe in sydney. It was quite amusing to find out that what most people buy from said bar is the stuff that the belgians joke about back home. He then proceeded to hand us a few bottles that had been imported directly from belgium with a $15 price tag per bottle (300ml - very small). It was a simple taste of heaven.

You can't truly say you like or dislike the beer from any country until you've been to that country, although I've been warned not to drink guiness in ireland incase it completely ruins the experience for me (i.e. I'll never be able to drink it at my local irish pub again).

Oh and for the love of God, Fosters is about as australian as the american flag.

Wasn't there a disturbing episode of someone sending you flowers, Russ?

First flowers, then beer. If I were you, I'd buy myself a handy canister of mace.

Well, first off, I should apologise for not keeping up with the hot topics at The Escapist. If I'd been paying attention, this mystery could have been solved much sooner.

I sent the beer (I'm Spanner, by the way - some other undeserving forumite had already snapped up the user name before I came along), but there should have been a note in with the delivery to let the lads (and lasses) know who sent the ale, which evidently didn't arrive.

The reason I sent it (and get this, all you other British readers) was that during a totally unrelated Christmas email, I discovered that apparently no one in America (except, it has to be said, Tom Kurz - the man at the top of the Themis Group) had ever heard of Slade and their immortal Xmas anthem, "Merry Xmas Everybody!". How the f**k America can say it celebrates Christmas without listening to Slade twice a day - every day - during December is beyond me (as it is undoubtedly beyond you, British reader)!

Anyway, I sent some YouTube links over to North Carolina (wherever that is) and got the Escapist office whipped up into the pre-requisite glam-rock Christmas frenzy on the wings of Noddy Holder's winter war cry, and suddenly felt compelled to further complete their woefully INcomplete Christmas education with some proper English beer. If I remember, the English among us may be interested to know there was also some Riggwelter and Black Sheep Special in the mix. Rigg is a favourite of mine, but it dun't 'alf tek some getting' used to, si' thee! It in't much uv' a session beer, but one at t'end a t'neet fair sees thee reet, I can tell thee!

I'm glad to hear it was well received. When it arrived, I can report that I was in a right f***ing p***ed up state in the actual Black Sheep brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire (where Fletcher's Holy Ale is brewed). A reet good neet was 'ad by all!
It took a bit of finding, but I was pleased to see that proper beer is available in America, although not as rampantly (?) as I would like.

Still, as long as there are now a few more converts in the colonies, I'm happy. Also, please don't think this was a gift: it was a shameless bribe, and I'm hoping that Fletcher's cheque signing arm is now well lubricated when it comes to the nonsensical bollocks (that's an English profanity you Yanks need to get to grips with if you're gonna start drinkin' properly) I like to write.

Happy new year, you terrible drunkards!

The Span-Man.

If I remember, the English among us may be interested to know there was also some Riggwelter and Black Sheep Special in the mix. Rigg is a favourite of mine, but it dun't 'alf tek some getting' used to, si' thee! It in't much uv' a session beer, but one at t'end a t'neet fair sees thee reet, I can tell thee!

I was with you up until this part. Either you've switched to typing in French or something, or I'm not drunk enough to parse your words.

Huge tracts of land, Demi. Huge tracts of land.

Innit more loik 'uge trects of lend or summet?

No no no no no! That won't do at all, Ian! That's so far south it'd give Yorkshire folk a nose bleed! Fletcher's on the right track with Swap Castle (in fact, here's a picture of me in Prince Herbert's room at Doune Castle where The Holy Grail was filmed: http://graffitiwriter.co.uk/dounecastle.JPG ), only the phonetics need adjusting slightly to give it a Yorkshire twang: "Yooge tracts 'a land!" Being as we speak proper, us northerners don't pronounce the letter H. In fact, we cut out as many unnecessary letters as possible, which is probably why my previous post makes no sense.

Clearly Fletch is well on his way to becoming an honorary Yorkshireman (congratulations and commiserations), and all it took was a swing and an 'alf a' reet beer! Although, truth be told, I also sent some Wychwood beer in an' among the Black Sheep, which is from down south (although I suspect the Wychwood brewery was originally founded by a lashed up Yorkshire lad who sobered up and found himself lost. Unable to get a proper drink, he opened a brewery).

'Ere ends lesson one in 'ow to be a Yorkshire bloke. Or lass, dependin' on t' tackle.

Here's lesson two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qdsv2CRHjk

 

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