Wednesday 14 April 2010

Sentimental Journey

Heston is doing well and will be going into cooling tomorrow. There is no aroma of meat, blood or guts just the typical fruity smells of a good fermentation.

I get another day away from the brewery on Saturday as I am flying to Edinburgh for a couple of nights on Friday afternoon. I lived in Edinburgh when studying brewing and haven’t been back there for about 6 years. I’m quite looking forward to it. The rose coloured spectacles of time have obscured memories of English bashing and the biting Edinburgh wind. I’m looking forward to a few beers in the Bow Bar and the Guildford and a huge curry at the Guru on Dundee Terrace. I’ll also be close enough to a ‘spoons to try a few beers at their beer festival. Hopefully they’ll have some of my “thin and boring” beer on.

When I lived in Edinburgh my flat had a gale force wind travelling through it most of the time and I lived on Tesco Value tuna and chicken breasts (the days before Lidl). This time, thanks to cashing in my Tesco Clubcard Tokens, I am lodging in style at the £200/night Caledonian at the end of Princes Street and trying  Restaurant Number One on the Friday night.

Edinburgh is where I learned about brewing science and as importantly about how the palate shifts with the beer we drink. I used to love a pint of Deuchars at the Caley sample room. Velvety, bittersweet and moreish. After I had worked at Brakspear for 6 months I travelled back to Scotland for a reunion. The first thing I did when I got off the train was to head to nearest pub for a pint of Deuchars. I was presented by what I thought was yellow hand soap. It tasted bland, slimy and other than the diacetyl was flavourless. Two more pints at different pubs seemed the same. Nothing had changed in the beer. What had changed was my palate. After drinking the brutally-bitter Brakspear beers for 6 months the smoothness and delicate flavour of the Deuchars just seemed like nitrokeg.

I’m convinced that drinkers who habitually consume very bitter, very dark or very sweet beer experience a perception shift in their palate that prevents them from appreciating more subtle beers. It happened to me. I’m now very careful about sticking to one type of beer all the time. I drink Sharp’s beers all day every day (in the context of moderate and healthy consumption) so tend to drink more idiosyncratic beers when away from work to ensure that my palate is not becoming skewed. Even if I’m wrong, at least I have a good excuse for drinking challenging beers.


Adrian Tierney-Jones said...

Glad you mention the Bow Bar, one of my favourite places in the UK while Auld Reekie is a favourite city, feels more European than Scottish or British, which I like. Have a good time.

Post a Comment