Thursday, 26 December 2019

25th December 2019

In case it escaped anyone’s notice, yesterday – Wednesday 25th December was Christmas Day; the “big day,” if you believe all the hype, and all the carefully targeting advertisements designed to part you from your money in the run up to the day itself.

The ads seem to start earlier each year, and certainly once we’re into October, they’re pretty much non-stop – as are all the cheesy hits being blasted out in shops and shopping centres all over the country. By the time the main event arrives, you’re sick and tired of the whole charade and feeling that it’s definitely not “The most wonderful time of the year,” despite what Andy Williams might tell you.

For many people Christmas is not a time to out-spend, out-consume and out-eat your fellow human beings. Instead it is a time for quiet reflection, to count one’s blessings and to spend time with friends and loved ones, if you are fortunate to have them. I’ll be putting some of my reflections out on my blog, before the year is out, but I want to say I enjoyed a quiet Christmas, at home, with my immediate family.

Being slightly older now, I can well appreciate why my father always preferred staying at home on Christmas day, rather than having to drive somewhere or have children and later grandchildren running amok. Mum had other ideas, of course, and expectations of  Christmas that were impossibly high, meaning disappointment was often inevitable.

I’ve never wanted to fall into that trap, and whilst during the early days of my marriage to Mrs PBT’s, I did have to endure driving off to spend time with parents, siblings or other family members, I’m pleased to say those days are passed. The worst part of those visits was, as the sole driver, not being able to enjoy a few beers. I’m not talking of getting tanked up, but I do like a beer or two with my Christmas dinner, without compromising my driving abilities, or breaking the law.

After having endured (sounds awful but it’s meant in the nicest possible way), the stresses arising from spending time in other people’s homes, with people you might not normally choose to spend time with, I can tell you there’s nothing better than being able to close the door on the rest of the world, (even if it’s only for one day), and just relax, chill out and just do your own thing in the comfort of your own home.

So how did I spend my December 25th ? Did I over indulge on the food or the booze and, seeing as this is a blog about beer, what interesting beers did I enjoy?

I was actually quite moderate with my drink consumption on Christmas Day, and the same applies to the food. I woke up just after 8.30am, and went downstairs just before 9am. Mrs PBT’s had already surfaced in order to get the all important  turkey in the oven, but there was no sign of son Matthew stirring from his slumbers. I made myself a cup of tea, and joined Eileen in a spot of breakfast grazing – finishing up some of the “finger food” left over from Christmas Eve’s soiree.

Presents were opened two and a half hours later, once the preparations for the dinner were progressed as far as they might, and young Matthew had graced us with his presence. We don’t tend to go overboard at Christmas, so there was nothing too extravagant for any of us; although there were the odd few indulgences. 
Shortly after midday both Matt and I started on the drink. I wanted something light to begin with, so the bottle of Curious Brew Lager that was lurking at the back of the fridge seemed just the ticket. The “curious” part of the name comes from the use of Champagne yeast, used to conduct a secondary fermentation. This imparts a Champagne - like quality to the beer, making it a surprisingly refreshing drink. Curious indeed!

I waited for Christmas dinner before cracking open my second beer, which was a bottle of Fuller’s 1845. For the past decade or so, this excellent, strong, bottle-conditioned ale has been my usual accompaniment for a turkey dinner. The rich malt combined with the earthy hop character cuts in well against the flavours and texture of the turkey and associated vegetables.

The dinner was excellent, but then Mrs PBT’s always serves up a good spread, and she certainly did us proud yesterday. Without wishing to bore with too much  in the way of domestic details, we went for a turkey from Tesco this year, rather than from our usual choice of  a Waitrose bird. It was tender, succulent plus nice and flavoursome, proving that turkey doesn't have be dry, bland and tasteless.

I finished the 1845 before I finished my meal, so I moved onto the Larkin’s Porter from the mini-cask that I’d stored out in the summerhouse. It had cleared nicely since the haziness of the previous evening, and was rich, dark and satisfying. Having only managed to track down one outlet selling one of my favourite winter beers so far this year, it’s good to have some on tap to be enjoyed in the comfort of my own home.

No more beers for a while, as a break from both food and alcohol seemed a good idea. So did a couple of glasses of water, as both can leave one dehydrated. Later on I cracked open a can of Pilsner Urquell. As I've undoubtedly mentioned before, this world classic, original pilsner, is my go-to beer for drinking at home. It has a tremendous depth of flavour for a 4.4% beer, with just the right amount of bitterness from the Saaz hops balanced against a deep malty background. Without getting too technical, this has something to do with the triple-decoction mash that the beer undergoes in the initial stages of production.

I finished the evening with a can of Life & Death, the excellent 6.5% abv IPA from Vocation Brewery. Pale in colour, and packed full of juicy malt flavours, off-set by aromas and flavours of tropical fruits, the beer proved the perfect accompaniment to the obligatory turkey sandwich.

That then, was my lot, and all things considered an enjoyable Christmas Day, without too much in the way of excess, and nothing in the way of stress. I even watched the odd spot of TV, just to be sociable, but when all’s said and done, it does seem like a terrific fuss for what, after all, is just another day.

I trust everyone  had an equally enjoyable December 25th, and I extend my best wishes and compliments of the season to one and all.


retiredmartin said...

I'm glad you had a good time Paul.

Just to be contrary I'll say I never understand why folk can't have a roast dinner whenever they want or just save up and but the things they need rather than guessing what other people want. I just don't understand the need to celebrate on set days, but when I say that people get really annoyed. My barber poked me in the head last year, so it'sa good job my own son can cut my hair these days.

Looking forward to pubs returning to normal hours but if office workers would like to visit them in January I'd be delighted to see them there.

Cheers !

Paul Bailey said...

I don't think you're being contrary at all Martin, although festivals, such as Christmas, have taken on a life of their own. More so in the last 70 years or so, with the OTT commercialisation of the event, especially in the run-up to Christmas.

If I had my way, and if son Matthew didn't have to work over the Christmas period, I would take the family away - ether somewhere with loads of snow, or somewhere hot and sunny. Other countries don't make the enormous fuss over this event, as we do in the UK, so it would be nice to get away from all the commercial aspects of Christmas, and other similar events.

It's a shame that some people get so worked up about Christmas. Physical violence in whatever shape or form, is totally unacceptable, but your barber's loss is Matthew's gain.

retiredmartin said...

That's a very considered and sensible response if I may say, Paul.

Take a look on Mum'sNet to see a slightly more hysterical reaction (no don't).

Paul Bailey said...

Martin, you knew, that despite your warning, I would just have to take a peek on Mum'sNet.

Apart from attempting to sort out the abbreviations for presumably "significant other" and the other associated relatives/friends/hangers on, the thread below, that started on the day after Boxing Day, was the one that really caught my eye:

"Who has started getting ready for next year especially with all the sales online and in the stores? All the Christmas pyjamas and fragrance gift sets are perfect to horde because they’re staple gifts."