Home beer and pub beer

A number of blog posts have stung me into action again, particularly the excellent Boak and Bailey (http://boakandbailey.com/) and have made me think about why I drink what I drink, and where I drink it. I’ve realised that the primary reason I go to pubs isn’t to drink beer any more – that’s a strong secondary reason, but the primary reason is social. So the pub itself is generally more important than the beer – I’m not fussed if they don’t have the very latest fifteen-hop quadruple IPA, so long as they have something I enjoy drinking a couple of pints of. And that often means some rather old-fashioned and distinctly unfashionable beers – bitters. And the odd mild, stout, or whatever, but most often bitter. Which has come of something of a shock to someone who always considered himself a hophead even before the term existed, and someone who used to seek out new beers back in the day when many towns were dominated by the products of just one or two big brewers – and very often supremely dull beers at that. Back then I would drink Taylor’s Landlord whenever possible (I still do), Yates’ Bitter in the Lake District, Higsons’ in Liverpool (even the Mild was incredibly bitter!), Franklins’ Bitter and so on. Now don’t get me wrong, I will go for Citra or similar if it’s on, but I’m not so fussed at tracking a pub down that sells it if I’m already in a pub I feel comfortable in, with a pint I’m happy with – even if there are better pints out there. Last week, for example, I was in a pleasant enough pub that only had Sharp’s Atlantic on, a beer I consider relatively bland, but absolutely fine to accompany conversation – it doesn’t intrude.
Whereas at home, I drink beer for rather different reasons. With food, which means some sort of matching. That Citra goes down well with a curry, for example. Or watching sport, in which case something nicely balances – as I’m on Oakham, Scarlet Macaw fits the bill for me. Or just drinking beer, in which case I most certainly am looking for something interesting, something new or an old favourite. Which is where that Quadruple IPA comes in.

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