The second best beer I ever had was a warm can of Tennents. Way back before me and my friends thoroughly destroyed our lives by adding idiotic children to them we used to do fun stuff; fun stuff like going on holidays together. The most excellent of these holidays happened at some point at the back end of the Noughties, the same sort of time that saw Duffy and The Kooks riding high in the charts. The past really is a different country eh?
Knocking off early on a Friday we ker-dunk ker-dunked off over the old Forth Road Bridge towards the tiny piece of Arcadia my partner’s dad owns on Harris, a wee cottage an hour’s walk from the nearest road with no mobile reception and five minutes from one of those mad Hebridean Atlantic beaches that look like the Caribbean, but a weird freezing Caribbean that’s entirely populated by pasty-faced, blue-legged British people in midge nets. That was a very long sentence. Terrible writing.
The ferry to Harris left first thing on the Saturday morning so we camped overnight at Uig on Skye. After the five hour drive we stuck the tents up and broke open the slab of Tennents from the boot of the Polo and let me tell you, as the six of us stood sinking our tins and looking out at the churning sea those shit lagers tasted of freedom and adventure and friendship and love and they were utterly, utterly perfect.
Photo shamelessly nicked from The Guardian
The best beer I ever had was a pint of cask mild and I couldn’t even tell you the name of brewery, never mind the beer. I’ve written about my dad on this blog before so I’ll not go over old ground, but back in happier times we used to spend most Sundays mooching up and down the M62 corridor watching Salford RLFC get humped by whichever vastly more professional outfit we were playing that week. I left it behind when I came up to Scotland to study but my old man and his best pal Franck carried on, week in week out, and we still banged on about the vicissitudes of the Red Devils’ fortunes whenever we talked
Back from uni for Christmas one year and Salford were playing a friendly away at Leigh (which is just a small town in Wigan). My dad’s mate Les was a member of Leigh Rugby Union (booooo) club, so before the game we all headed over there for a drink. Downing cask mild for two pound something a pint in front of the blazing fire it was, to quote a friend, a very nice time. To be honest, the memories of the day are a wee bit blurred by the mists of time and mild but at some point plates of mince pies were sent round and we all started belting out Christmas carols. Merry gentlemen were rested, nights were silent and as the whole bar grinned from ear to ear it was, again, a moment that was utterly perfect.
The best pint we will ever have is the first one in a pub after the coronavirus pandemic that will occur, according to our calculations, in 2020.
If there’s a point to this sentimental, meandering ramble, and there was honestly meant to be one when I started typing, it’s that with all the wonderful stuff happening in brewing, the heights that beer can reach – with Twitter and Untappd and all of that nonsense – we should never forget that a beer that’s the accompaniment to life rather than the main event is still a magnificent thing.