BEER and football go together. Both have been demonised and sneered at over the years. And some people have fallen for it.
Two of the worst trends in British society over the last 25 years have been football’s move upmarket and the creeping mythology that somehow drinking wine makes you sophisticated. It doesn’t.
Wine is for the poncey bourgoise – and insecure working-class men who want the approval of their ‘betters’. They accept knighthoods and take every opportunity to talk about their favourite tipple, just to show the world they’ve got a touch of class. Well, Sir Alex, go and have Pinot Noir with the prawn sandwich eaters you profess to hate. I’m going on the ale like a real man, not a Frenchman.
Join the revolution: drink proper beer. It costs – sometimes more than the bland, mass produced plonk you swirl round the glass at Abigail’s Party – and it might be challenging. After all, it’s not Carling I’m talking about here. But the taste will have roots in your culture. Here’s five beers to try on your travels.
Home comfort: ShipWreck IPA, Liverpool Organic Brewery (6.5%). IPA’s are the Ordinary Boys of drinking. Strong, dangerous and stylish and they’ll bite you if you mess with them. This Scouse version isn’t the strongest but that means you can throw down a few. It’s bitter, the way beer should be.
Just Capital: Meantime London Pale (4.3%) Venture south of the river and you’re into Meantime’s manor. It’s also Millwall’s manor. Drink the London Pale and you’ll be OK, Drink the souped up IPA at 7.5% and you’ll be ready to bounce up to the Den and confront Harry The Dog. Quality stuff all round.
Pure new Wool: Curious, Magic Rock (3.9%). Huddersfield has given us great things. Herbert Chapman, Bill Shankly and now Curious. Yeah, it’s not strong but it’s tasty. More complex than its stength shows and you can throw a gallon down you without ending up with a ‘made in Yorkshire’ tattoo around your belly button.
Light fantastic: Camden Helles Lager (4.6%). Lagers aren’t crap by definition. Just most are. Even the German beer industry is being swallowed up by the multinationals. So get off at Euston, go out towards the main road and drink this stuff in the bar in the forecourt. If anyone asks you the time, say “time for a Helles”. They’ll get the picture.
Religious experience: Orval (6.2%). It’s Belgian, it’s made by monks and it’s God’s home brew. If you’re going to go abroard, you wouldn’t come back with K-Swiss, would you? So screw Stella. Orval is like discovering Spezials in 1979. Original and classic.