Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Beginning...

So this may or may not happen as a proper lasting blog; but here we go...

This Christmas (2012) I bought myself a book, "1001 Beers: you must try before you die". Since then I have been meandering my way through many of the beers within.This blog plans to cover my adventures with this book and my views on the beers within. I'll come back to this in the next post. This one is a wee bit of history.

My interest in beer starts way before that. 

An early confession - I was a Bud man. In my defence, this is Northern Ireland. Bud arrived in draught form in my formative beer days at £2 a pint in Hunters (now long gone) on the Lisburn Road. Compared the Harp or Tennents it tasted pretty damn good - and it least it was served cold. After that I can even admit to a period of time when I and friends referred to Coors Light as "Sweet Milk" *shudder*.

However, when I travelled I always liked to try the local lager. Dorada in the Canaries, served in ice cold pint glasses, comes to mind.

Then in 2006 I had 2 trips to the states in quick succession. In New Orleans I found Abita and in Boston I found Sam Adams. Suddenly my opinion of beer changed. Before this, it was all about light, crisp, and frankly flavourless lager. These beers were amber, and malty, and moreish. But they weren't (widely) available in Northern Ireland and I went back to drinking insipid lager.

I was back to America in 2008 for my honeymoon, and I was determined to try new beers. Yuengling in New York, Sierra Nevada in Las Vegas, and Anchor Steam in San Francisco. Even better, we found Jacks at the Cannery in SF. 85 beer on tap and a proper beer menu. My mind was blown.

Since then I have been seeking out and trying every different beer I can find.

I was still steeped in American beers. I should also at this point mention my old boss who really introduced me to proper English and real ales. I'm still not convinced about drinking them warm, but I'm coming round to the concept! Trips to Germany, Australia, and experimentation with Belgian and Czech beers have broadened my mind further.

So - while this post covers my history with beer, this blog doesn't start at the beginning of the "1001 beers to try before you die". I'm 153 beers in and have also now started scoring and cataloguing the beers I try outside those referenced in the book.

In the next post, I'll summarise the best (and worst) I've had to date, from then on I'll probably cover a few beers, and  related stories, in each post.

One point though - while I've enjoyed reading and working my thought the book, but it is by no means definitive. Firstly, it was published in 2010 - as the craft beer revolution was really catching on (at least only catching on here) and therefore it misses many new beers you really should try. Secondly, there are beers in it that simply aren't great, and life's too short to spend your time drinking bad beer. As Hunter S Thompson Said "Good people drink good beer".

A couple of other points - what I like, you might not. I have a soft spot for big hopped American IPAs and dark bitter stouts and porters. I generally prefer ale to lager (though I have recently discovered that lager is much more than pilsner and a few good dopplebocks are trying to persuade me otherwise). 

My overall scoring will be out of 10 (half points allowed), and I'll try to cover most of the tasting points (bouquet, colour, taste, mouth-feel) for new beers but might not cover this for beers I tried awhile ago. I'll also try to give some info about beer styles etc. as we go along.

Finally, if you live in Northern Ireland and want to try good beers I can recommend:

For local beers try anything by Whitewater and Hilden. Clanconnel also have some good stuff.

The next post will get to the beers!



  1. Alright mate. Good blog. Also include in your list The Crown, Bittles (best selection of NI bottled beer in Belfast), The Hudson and the Sunflower. Gap Wines in Carrickfergus and Antrim Rd also have a great selection of bottles to take away.
    Also out of Belfast is The Dirty Duck in Holywood and the Brewers House in Donaghmore, Co Tyrone (home to Red Hand Brewing)

    Cheers, Roy W.

    1. Hi Roy, thanks for the read.

      Got to admit I haven't been in the crown or bittles for years so need to check them out again. Enjoyed both the hudson and the sunflower when I was there last weekend and have added them both in! Haven't been to Gap wines so need to check that out.

      I love the dirty duck. Really need to try more places outside Belfast though and I'll deffo check out Brewers House on your recommendation!