The first guest post for Pub Geek from my plucky sidekick, Karianne, on her discovery of the wonderful world of beer.
Here’s the deal: I wouldn’t consider myself a drinker, but I enjoy a drink. I can already see you squinting at me and trying to work out what the hell that means, so let me explain: a ‘drinker’, for the purpose of this narrative, is someone who can drink more than two pints of liquid in an hour. Which I cannot. If you need a metaphor, I’m the proverbial tortoise; slow and steady wins the race every time. I’ve found I don’t have the fortitude – or the inclination, to be perfectly honest – to get utterly trashed and fall over on my arse on a Saturday night, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a good alcoholic beverage when I find myself out on the town with friends. My drink of choice is rum and coke, I adore cocktails and fruity mixers, and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I like typical girly drinks: preferably colourful and including a little umbrella.
So imagine my surprise when I realised I was slowly being seduced to the “dark” side – Beer.
Six months ago my knowledge of beer was pretty limited. Mention the word and like most people my immediate thought would be thick dark liquid in a tankard glass being supped by an old man with a large gut and an impressive beard. You know, the kind of man that props up the bar of his local so often that the wood is perfectly indented to match the shape of his arms. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that there were different types of beer but I couldn’t have told you what they were any more than I could have predicted the next Premier League winner. Or named any of the teams.
Now? I could reel off the names of various breweries around the Midlands (and some much further afield), tell you the difference between an ale and a lager (it’s all in the fermentation), and have unwittingly become a trusty side-kick to a massive beer nerd (who also happens to be my best friend).
One thing myself and Suzy have in common is our love of pubs; from the fancy cocktail bar to the hole-in-the-wall traditional public house, no drinking establishment is safe from our presence. Generally I’m not one to shy away from trying new things – certainly not where alcohol is concerned – so when Suzy started taking an interest in the industry I ended up tagging along for the ride, and that’s where my initiation into the world of beer drinking started. Since then I’ve been to real ale and craft beer pubs and attended numerous beer festivals around the Midlands, steadily working my way through the list of new and old beers to find the ones that suit me. I’ve tried more beer than I knew existed in my quest – from the ultra-light “Cor b’limey” to the toffee sweet “Bumblehole” – and I’ve finally found my type: sweet, refreshing and full-bodied (three words that, strangely enough, also describe me – but that’s a topic for another time).
But despite the interesting jaunts and my quest to find something other than Malibu and Coke to drink on a night out, I don’t think I’ll ever be a beer connoisseur. I suppose you could call me a novice if you really need to put a name to it, and as trusty side-kick to the self-described “Beer Geek”, it’s a title I would gladly take. Right now I’d much rather kick back in the company of friends new and old and enjoy my half pint of Gunhild while I learn more about beer culture by osmosis.