One of the oldest beverages humans produced, beer has been credited with enabling the advance of human civilisation. It is a beverage imbued with history, each pint the sum total of the thousands of years of brewing that came before it. When you’re drinking beer you’re not just sipping liquid, you’re partaking in a rich historical experience. An experience to be remembered, lest you drink to much of it.
Its not just the history of beer which makes drinking it a rich experience, plenty of us associate a specific beer with important moments in our lives. We’ve all had a moment when we taste something and quite a vivid memory comes back – usually from some time ago. Taste, like smell, bypasses the part of the mind that is logical and educable and travels directly to the primitive brain, the seat of instinct and memory. In short, taste summons memory.
One of the great things about launching Crafted & Distilled has been starting to get to know some fascinating people in the world of beer. I asked some of them to write about a beer that they remember. Not necessarily because it was the best beer they’ve ever had, but rather because it serves as a reminder of a moment, a turning point or someone important. Here’s the response:
Kefalonia, Greece, 2010. A more fraught journey than usual due to the secret engagement ring I was carrying in my pocket. It stayed with me, lurking like a precious reminder that this holiday wasn’t just pleasure – there was a proposal to be done. After a few days, the location scouted and the evening’s pre-meal walk changed to pass by the white chapel robed in red flowers, the time came. She said yes. All the nerves of the last few months came to surface, and, half an hour later, we were enjoying a much-needed drink to push them away. I’ll never find that feeling again; the impossibly blue Greek sky, the harbour side taverna slowly waking up for the evening and the cold, cold glass of Mythos lager pulling me from my daze. Leigh’s blog The Good Stuff is here.
There are few better bars in the world than café ‘T Brugs Beertje which sits on the sleepy Kemelstraat in the heart of Bruges’ tourist packed town centre. It was here, on my birthday, a few years ago I had my first taste of Cantillon Gueuze. All barnyard and cider apples with a battery acid like sharpness. It befuddled and challenged my senses, I passed it across the table to my girlfriend, Dianne. She took one sniff and blurted out “Errgh that smells like the first piss of the day!” We laughed, she passed it back and I relished every mouthful as the iconic Belgian beer became an instant all-time favourite.