I’m quite meticulous when it comes to the order in which I drink my beers at home. Bottles and cans get put onto a shelf, expanding to the right as deliveries arrive or gifts are received, and are taken off – to be moved to the fridge or direct to a glass – from the left. I guess some might see it as OCD but I justify it as a method of not diving right in and quaffing stuff I’m really looking forward to ahead of others that haven’t quite piqued my interest as much. (There’s currently one exception to this rule, which I’ll come to later.)
A few days ago, the basic makeup of the shelf was: A recent subscription box from Flavourly; two Belgian beers that I had been given as a wedding anniversary present; a selection of beers from Siren Craft Brew; a larger selection from Brew York. All things being equal I knew, more or less, which would be the five hundredth beer that I checked in on Untappd – it was either going to be Delirium Red (I couldn’t remember, and hadn’t checked, whether I had already logged this one) or Broken Dreams, the first beer I would have tried from Siren.
As it turned out, two events occurred that moved that milestone to a beer that was closer to the left of the shelf. Firstly, an unexpected free Friday afternoon meant I arranged a first visit to Brew York’s beer hall in months (much longer than lockdown has lasted) and introduced a friend to the excellent, if slightly reduced at the moment, range of beers available there. A couple of hours later and I was four closer to the impending milestone.
Then, a few days later, another friend came round for the latest in what has been an irregular series of lockdown/restrictions catch-ups. Drinking on a Monday – who would have thought it? We’ve met this guy before in my writings – he’s the gig-buddy I referred to a lot when I wrote about live music and the real ale fan who has (or had…) little time for craft that I mentioned last time out. And this is where that exception comes into play – we take it in turns to pick three or four beers to sample during these get togethers and, for various reasons, when its my turn, I buy ones not currently on the shelf. And so I moved another three closer, sitting at 498, without anything having come off the shelf. Oh, yeah, and my friend admitted that he was beginning to come around to my way of thinking as regards craft, although after telling me that he caveated the statement with, “But, obviously, I’m not going to tell you that…”
Now, it’s here that I’m going to admit to being a little bit lucky. During the two days between those two events, I had drunk two new beers at home. Just two, when it could easily have been four. Anybody keeping up (or, indeed, still reading) will realise that, if it had been four, then I would have hit the five hundredth during the Monday evening and, assuming we drank the same beers in the same order, that milestone beer would have ended up being the slightly disappointing The Italian Job, from Wilde Child – a Tiramisu Milk Stout that I found a little too sweet. It wasn’t by any means undrinkable, but I’ve certainly enjoyed other “dessert” beers more than this one. Of course, in a parallel universe there could have been any number of different outcomes and I like to think that, somewhere, my five hundredth beer ended up being Midnight Sun, from Williams Brothers (arguably the brewery who first introduced my to craft). This was the first beer we sampled on that evening – a dark, rich and spicy porter that starts of with a chocolate-y flavour then hits you with a kick of ginger and which, in my opinion, almost reached the heights of Centurion’s Ghost.
So, what was the milestone beer I hear at least one of you asking (or is it somebody shouting, “Get to the bloody point!”) That honour ended up going to…
…Keller Pils, from Lost And Grounded, based in Bristol. It is a beer that turned up in one of my Flavourly subscriptions and, while I have found those subscriptions to be of variable quality, this beer stood out when I opened the box. For a start it was a 440ml can – a rarity as the selections generally consist of 330ml cans or bottles – with a distinctive (and delightful) label – many of the cans that come from Flavourly have relatively bland labels, many of which would get lost among the more imaginative designs and branding that seem to be the norm these days. Lost And Grounded’s core beers have labels with a cartoonish landscape and wildlife theme and they fit together to form one big panorama. Sadly, the other can I have from the brewery isn’t one of their core range, so doesn’t have a similar label. But, enough about the label, what about the beer. I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan of lager and used to only really drink it when I had to (on holiday, at football matches when “proper” beer wasn’t available, etc) and then it was usually mass-produced stuff. But this was quite nice – I don’t pretend to understand the difference but Lost And Grounded’s Keller Pils, according to an article in Flavourly’s magazine, takes its inspiration from the unfiltered lagers often made by smaller family brewers in Germany – almost, they say, like the lager equivalent of real ale – and involves “spunding”, which naturally carbonates the drink by closing the tank and allowing the yeast to consume the remainder of the sugar, building pressure as it does so. Apparently, sometimes it can end up being more bitter and sometimes more hazy – I think I probably got some of the bitter batch, which is why I enjoyed drinking it more than I thought I would (especially after being disappointed by the Radeberger Pilsner, also from Germany, that I sampled a few weeks earlier and found very bland, despite it being highly regarded).
There has been a lot of collaboration brews in my Flavourly boxes recently, some more enjoyable than others. One of the reasons I took up a beer subscription was to discover new breweries that maybe don’t have the social media presence that others do – my Facebook feed seems to get adverts from the same half-dozen-or-so breweries over and over again. On the basis of their Keller Pils (and, hopefully, the American Pale Ale currently sitting in the fridge waiting for my on-call stint to come to and end) I may well be dabbling in the output of Lost And Grounded again.
In the meantime, here’s to the next five hundred.