(i’ve been kind of all over the place for the past couple of months, and while i entertained notions of keeping abreast of posting on the road as events/experiences warranted, it really wasn’t practical. as a result, expect over the next month or so to be treated to fits and starts of travel reportage, according to no particular order or geographical logic.)
so, all enthusiasm post-central-European-blandness-blowout aside, it turns out i’m not such a great fan of English beers. at least not English beers in England, for i love IPAs and stouts, and were it not for the week i just spent in London, i might have continued to think that i just straight up Like English Beers. as my friend James pointed out, however, i am in fact a New World sucka (he may not have said it quite that way) – i greatly prefer the hop-forwardness, bitterness and citrus of American craft brewers to the more understated room-temperature soapishness (mean in the best possible way) of traditional British ales, and while i had some decent stouts, i remain convinced that the St Ambroise Oatmeal stout is pretty much unparalleled on tap.
probably the two best beers i tried while in London were at Mason & Taylor, a hip but quite acceptable bar just west of the East End, that carries a decent variety of local and semi-local brews on tap, as well as making forays into weird shit like “single hopped gin cocktails,” which i tried to order TWICE and was denied because they were out of whatever the hell it is that is required to produce such a thing (some sort of hops liqueur?). along with the Brew Dog Challenger (part of their short run IPA IS DEAD hop series), which was well-balanced and interestingly biscuity, but otherwise insufficiently engaging (“unabashedly crisp,” it was not), i had Thornbridge’s “American/British” Jaipur IPA, that was super refreshing and hoppy, with a middly bitterness and nice citrus notes, and the Williams Brothers’ Caesar Augustus lager/American IPA hybrid, which i guess means i was a Canadian drinking a Scottish interpretation of a cross between a British version of a German beer and an American reinterpretation of a British beer, and for all that it was pretty nice. also super light and refreshing, but with enough bitterness to remind you that you are in fact drinking a beer.
i think all in all what i find unenticing about British ales is they tend to really lack in the crispness area, so the bitterness sits a little heavy on the palate. of course the obvious alternative would have been to drink more lagers, like a good bloke, but as already stated, after almost a full month of Central European and Scandinavian lagerage and pilsenery, punctuated only by the occasional Belgian beer (which it turns out i am too much of a woman/barbarian to appreciate), i was hankering for something with a little more spleen to it. Amer, America, inverted, it pretty much was.
the Magic Rock Dark Arts stout that i had was also pretty nice, with a subtle smokiness that i hadn’t encountered in a stout in some time, and enough bitterness to remind one that stouts are weird-ass concoctions in the first place, although i wouldn’t say it’s as luxurious and fruity and mouth-coating as they like to think.
no punchline, sorry.