The above title is not quite true, as I've posted a couple of Blogs on Paul Garrard's excellent Real Ale Network, where I'm a guest blogger.
As someone who's been passionate about beer for the last 35 years or so I thought it about time that I published some of my thoughts and observations online. But with such a long history spent enjoying decent beer, where does one start?
I won't repeat the boring stuff about me - that's listed elsewhere on the site. What I will say though is although I've been a CAMRA member since the mid 1970's, unlike some campaign diehards I do not confine my beer sampling solely to real ale. (It's strange, but I know several CAMRA members who won't even try dark cask ales, such as old ales, porters or stouts).
Having just returned from a very enjoyable trip to the United States I would have been denying myself the chances of drinking some truly excellent beers if I had! Earlier this year I spent a week in Regensburg, Eastern Bavaria, where again the beers available, whilst obviously not cask-conditioned, were superb. On home soil though, I invariably choose the cask-ale option, and would not compromise my principles by drinking such travesties of brewing as "smooth" and "creamflow" beers!
What I found particularly encouraging about my recent trans-atlantic trip was the amount of interest in, and availablity of, what the Americans would call craft-brewed beers. I had expected to have to track down these beers , but even in the small Ohio town I was staying in beers from the likes of Great Lakes, Samual Adams and Blue Moon were widely available, alongside the offerings from Bud and Miller, and what's more a lot of people were drinking them! A brew-pub I visited had a guest beer list to die for, alongside its own excellent offerings.
This desire to try something a little out of the ordinary, and something that actually tastes of malt and hops, seems also to becoming more prevalent over here. Obviously CAMRA must take a lot of the credit for this, but so should companies like J.D. Wetherspoon with their strong committment to real ale, coupled with their support for micro-breweries, plus the availability of some of the decent contintental beers sold in their pubs. Publications such as "Beers of the World" have also played their part as have, of course, the growing number of beer writers, many of whom of course host their own websites or produce blogs of their own.
All beer has to do now to maintain its new-found respectability, is to fight off the twin threats from the anti-alcohol brigade and health lobby. It is up to all of us that care about the "best long drink in the world" to ensure that it does.