Skip to main content

Special Beers with Special People on Special Occasions

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…


Popular posts from this blog

"They Had Their Issues, So..."

      There’s a set of garages to rent as storage units near my workplace. One of them is taken by a local florist that uses it to store flower arrangements for various events, that are more often than not funerals.   As such, at least once a week at 8am I will pass a car being loaded up with flowers arranged into heart shaped patterns or the letters M U M. It is a grounding reminder that, as I mentally grumble my way through the upcoming arbitrary grievances of my ordinary working day, a group of family and friends locally is going through the hardest time. It provides much needed perspective on days when I could do with being reminded of all that I have to be thankful for.   These little moments explain to me why it is possible for us to share a communal loss when a celebrity passes away. Grief is often a personal and lonely experience, shared between a minority of people in your life. When a co-worker loses a relative or friend, it has little affect on me, bar signing of

The Ten Pubs That Made Me - Part 3: Dr Okell's / My Foley's Tap House and Leeds

A pint in Mr Foley's Tap House from December 2022     This is Part 3 (the fourth post) of an ongoing project. Please see the beginning of Part 0 for details.    Come the end of this journey, there may be a lesson in procrastination that I am unlikely to heed. These posts stem from a list that I made three years ago and a series that I embarked on 18 months ago. We’ve only now reached a 30% completion rate and with this post we are back to fail for the second time.   This odyssey began with a trip to Mr Foley’s Tap House in February 2022 – named Dr Okell’s bar on my first visits in 2005 – only to discover that it was closed. It did reopen by the time that the post was coming out and I managed a brief visit in December 2022. However, my July 1 st 2023 trip to Leeds, on which this post is based, is met with this sign at the door of the bar:      A quick check of social media shows an Instagram post from the day before (June 30 th ) announcing the closure of the

LIVERPOOL - the City that Craft Beer Forgot Part II (and found...)

After visiting Liverpool, one of my favourite cities, in February this year, and not impressing people with my rather hasty but honest verdict on the city’s lack of craft beer, I jumped at the chance to return last week and hoped to come out with a more attractive judgement. A couple of friends and I visited on a day out, with neither of them having been drinking in the city before. It was left to me – or rather, I volunteered – to plan the day’s itinerary and places to visit. I had a couple of new or unvisited places in mind myself, but knew it would be unfair to miss out on some of the city’s famous gems. With around 10-12 hours in which to fit in an entire city, I opted to concentrate on the famous Georgian Quarter and see if we had time for the Dale Street end later on.    We planned to arrive in the city for around 11a.m. just in time to walk up Mount Pleasant to the new-on-me, though I believe it has been opened three years, Clove Hitch on Hope Street for breakfast.