Prior to the start of the first lock-down towards the end of March 2020, I’d already accumulated quite a stash of bottles and was busy stocking up on cans. The bottles were a result of me over-stocking at Christmas, whilst the cans had been purchased primarily to take on the North Sea cruise to Hamburg, that Mrs PBT’s and I had booked for last May.
As you can probably imagine,beer is expensive on cruise ships, and whilst wine connoisseurs are well catered for, those of us who enjoy the juice of the barley, have to make do with big name “international brands.” Not my thing, and with a fridge in the cabin, why not stock it full of better and more enjoyable beers, to drink whilst sitting out on deck or on the balcony of the cabin?
This not only assumed the weather would be kind, but also didn’t take into account that nasty little piece of RNA that arrived, unwanted, from the Far East. In addition, at the start of that first lock-down, we rather naively thought things would be back to normal by May, and would be setting sail for Hamburg, as planned.
Talk about being blown completely off course, and with panic buying stripping supermarket shelves bare – mainly of toilet rolls and pasta, the thought crossed my mind that beer too might fall victim to problems in the supply chain.
I needn’t have panicked, especially as my good lady wife came the rescue by including several consignments of Budvar and Pilsner Urquell cans with a home delivery from Tesco. These were augmented by bottles of a beer that has since become a lockdown staple. The beer I’m talking about is St Austell Proper Job – an aptly named beer if ever there was one, and I shall be referring to this excellent beer again, before the end of this article.A few weeks into lock-down I became aware of “Flavourly;” the craft beer, gourmet food and snacks subscription club. I was tipped off about this company, by a fellow member of the WhatsApp Beer Socials Group that I’m a member of. The tip was, Flavourly were running a promotion on beers from Gun Brewery. I signed up, paid for my case of 24 beers and waited for the consignment to arrive. They arrived in good order and I soon got stuck into them.
Another case followed, this time the Moor Beer Company. This is the brewery who claim that their canned beer qualifies as “real ale” because it undergoes secondary fermentation in the can. I’m still not convinced about this, especially as, unlike bottles where you can watch the sediment closely, as you carefully pour the beer, cans are opaque meaning a hazy pint is far more likely than a clear one.
whole I managed to pour a reasonably clear glass of beer, but the temptation is
always there to carry on pouring, whilst gazing in horror as the yeasty dregs
plop in undoing, in an instant, the care and attention you just put in.
I’m still not convinced about this, especially as, unlike bottles where you can watch the sediment closely, as you carefully pour the beer, cans are opaque meaning a hazy pint is far more likely than a clear one.
On the whole I managed to pour a reasonably clear glass of beer, but the temptation is always there to carry on pouring, whilst gazing in horror as the yeasty dregs plop in undoing, in an instant, the care and attention you just put in.
I was on a bit of a roll, so opted for a third case, this time ostensibly from Wild Beer, but quite a few of the offerings were rather off-beat, collaboration brews involving the addition of various fruits to the beer. Fine if limes, mangoes, passion fruit or guava float your boat, but not so good if you like your beer to taste of malt and hops.
I wrote a post about Flavourly, halfway through lock-down, and looking back I’ve still got mixed feelings, about some of their collaboration and crowd-funded brews, especially when they get that little bit too experimental – as detailed above.
A month or so into lock-down one, I started buying cask beer in either two- or four-pint milk containers from the Nelson Arms in Tonbridge. These were pre-ordered and paid for by phone, prior to collection, and over the course of last summer, I purchased several of these.
keep well, as it quickly loses condition and ends up going flat. I moved onto five litre mini kegs, finding these a much better idea.
Five litres though are equivalent to nearly nine pints, which is quite a lot of beer to get through, especially if you end up choosing a brew you subsequently decide you’re not particularly keen on. I had several of these, mainly Larkin’s Best Bitter and Porter, that I pre-ordered and paid for over the phone, before picking them up direct from the brewery.
as a beer shop, because they were not allowed to operate as a pub. This was due to Kent being in placed in one of those confusing tiers that the government toyed with during the final quarter of 2020.
For me, this was a good opportunity to call in and pick up a few bottles, and I took advantage of Fuggles excellent selection of German bottles, which included my favorite Rauchbier from Bamberg – Aecht Schlenkerla Märzen.
Haven’t mentioned my other “go-to” beer, Pilsner Urquell, often seen on offer in six-packs of 330 ml cans at just £5 a pop. I’ve always got a few cans of this world classic beer chilling away in the fridge, and it’s not unknown especially at weekends for me to crack one open to enjoy with my evening meal – especially the Sunday roast.
The beer has an ABV of just 4.4%, but drinks like one of a much higher strength. A peppery hop bitterness, derived from the prize Saaz hops, is to the fore, and this overlies a solid base of delectable toffee maltiness. The malt gives body to the beer, and this prominent maltiness is a direct result of the triple-decoction mashing regime still practiced at Pilsner Urquell. With this sort of combination, it really is one of the most satisfying and thirst –quenching beers around.
Proper Job is in a similar league This pale-coloured and powerfully hopped, IPA, is packed full of citrusy and resinous hops, set against a background of chewy, Maris Otter malt. Along with Pilsner Urquell, it has become my other “go to” lock-down beer. As mentioned above, both beers are often on special offer in supermarkets, and today I found 500 ml bottles of Proper Job on sale in Sainsbury’s for just £1.49 each.
Right now though, and despite the quality of these beers, more than anything else I am looking forward to a pint or three of a well-kept cask beer.