There are no rules to drinking beer. You may fancy a tipple at this moment, despite it being just an ordinary day, with nothing spectacular occurring and nobody else present. You might not really be in the mood for anything specific. You might just be satisfied with an orange juice but took to a beer because it was there. And that beer you’ve reached for might be a frozen can of your most tasteless lager that the off license had on offer. It’ll suffice. Or it might be the rarest, double barrel aged, triple hopped, cinnamon infused, overpriced crafted drink that cost £35 from an independent shop in South Devon.
The truth is, I don’t know why I would reach for the latter on a regular night. For whatever reason, on a personal preference, when I buy rare or expensive beers, I find myself storing them away until I have special reason to bring them out; a reason that never transpires. However, through the power of social media, I often see people supping the beers I have stockpiled in an almost careless manner, as if they simply were a little something they picked up at the local “offy.” Unless these people are millionaires, or are on some mission to drink every beer listed on ratebeer or untapped, I curse them for not showing the respect I feel they should to the lesser available creations out there.
I was bought a bottle of Brewdog ABstrakt:02 for Christmas in 2010. At the time, I didn’t use the internet for beer related information and so had never heard of the Abstrakt series. The gift giver told me the information they had been given in the shop (Beer Ritz, for reference) on its production, rarity and its price. With this knowledge, I put the beer away, vowing to only open it if something truly worth celebrating befell. It was still there a year later when I first really took to Twitter and reading blogs. It soon became apparent that everyone I spoke to or followed had probably had AB:02, that they had, in fact, had the entire series, that they probably drank it on a bored Tuesday night alone watching Holby City.
I say all this because last weekend I had reason to celebrate. I had a minor pay rise to raise a glass to. My friend was also celebrating moving into a new flat and had invited me over. It was another of our friend’s birthdays to boot. All in all, before heading to town, we had a couple of hours to raise a toast. It could have been a 12 pack of Carling job, but I thought we’d have a mini tasting session instead, because good beer is better shared.
I quickly looked in my stock for something suitable to take. A large sharing bottle, preferably with a cork, would make a good start for that champagne feel. So I opted for my Brooklyn Local 2. OK, so you might feel Brooklyn Local 2 isn’t incredibly rare and have probably tried it, but it was brewed to be a special beer for a special time. I also rarely have need for a 750ml bottle of a 9.7% beer to myself and therefore wondered whether this would ever be opened. Now seemed a great opportunity.
After this, I wanted a few different tastes to consider and ponder with my mates. So my other choices were Dark Horse’s Scotty Karate, Summer Wine’s Calico Jack and Schofferhofer’s Kaktusfeige. The first wasn’t particularly expensive, but I haven’t seen it widely available and being a Scotch Ale always makes for interesting conversation. The second is a beer I’ve had for around 5 months that I’ve wanted to share because I was expecting a real conversation piece. The third was just for fun; cactus infused beer at 2.5% has got to be entertaining to a crowd.
We just enjoyed the Local 2 and it made a decent start to proceedings. The Scotty Karate is fantastic and has given me a real interest again in Scotch Ale. The Calico Jack was ultimately disappointing and not worth the wait. The first disappointing beer I’ve ever had from Summer Wine, tasting just a little off with mediocre hints of ginger. The Kaktusfeige was hilarious and more like pop. But hey, everyone had a good time trying everything.
Perhaps these still weren’t exactly my most special beers, I may be too selfish to share them, but they were still bottles I wouldn’t reach for on a school night just for a laugh. It was great to have company with me to appreciate a variety of tastes, rather than just necking the coldest alcoholic drink within reach. I’ll keep waiting until I land that dream job, or buy a house or have a truly truly awful day to grab the more expensive beverages within the collection. My Abstrakt’s will continue to be stuck at the back, next to the Imperial Stouts and Barley Wines that are being aged purposely. But if I have a good reason to see them out, not just because it’s Thursday, then maybe…