OK all – time to raise the tone a little. We’ve had a good time talking about the beer, but let’s add a little class and sophistication to these ramblings and talk cocktails!
Over the summer we have actually had some good weather. Things weren’t looking good through June and July, but August has rescued what threatened to be a soggy season (provided you stayed out of the wind). This showing of the big yellow thing in the sky led many to be a little more adventurous with their beverages, and test the skills of many bar staff in Sussex Country pubs by asking for such delights as an Apple Lush (I’m sure that’s a band I used to be in?).
And now, as the season begins to wane, we have a definitive list of the top 10 cocktails consumed across the nation over the last few weeks. The list is produced by:
So it has an air of authority, and who are we to argue with those who clearly have nothing better to do that publish random lists to do with booze.
THE TOP 10 ARE,……….
- Strawberry Daiquiri
- Black Russian Rated
- Long Island Iced Tea
- Pina Colada
- Sex on the beach
- Apple Lush
- Last of the Architects
And for the curious and more adventurous among you, this is how you make an……
2 parts Vodka, 2 parts Apple juice, top up Ginger beer, pinch of Cinnamon
- Shake vodka and Apple juice (it is best to use 1 part Apple puree and 1 part Apple juice) together with ice
- Pour into an iced Collins glass and top up with Ginger beer
- Garnish with a slice of apple sprinkled with cinnamon
Not so sure about it myself………
Following along from the theme of my last post – As many regulars will know, attendance at the bar in a Sussex Country Pub like the Shepherd and Dog can be become what can only be described as sacred duty for those who take their drinking seriously. So when I came across the following it took me back to the heady days of my youth, when I had the pleasure of travelling in a sky blue uniform that required me to drink in bars around the world in the service of Queen and Country.
At many of the more formal occasions this would be recited by a man of the cloth in addition to the normal prayers and set the tone for what inevitably turned in to a bit of a session.
Which art in barrels,
Hallowed be thy drink,
Thy will be drunk,
(I will be drunk),
At home as I am in the tavern.
Give us this day our foamy head,
And forgive us our spillages,
As we forgive those who spill against us,
and lead us not to incarceration,
But deliver us from hangovers,
For thine is the beer,
The bitter and the lager,
Forever and ever,
I know of several candidates who consider themselves God’s gift when it comes to beer, but I have recently come across evidence that in ancient times the heavenly brew was in fact the purview of a Goddess.
The ancient Sumerians counted among their most revered Deities the Goddess of Beer – Ninkasi. As evidence of this an ancient hymn to Ninkasi was written some 4000 years ago, and as well as being the lovelorn ramblings of an early boozer, it contains the recipe for the Middle Eastern beverage of the time.
The Hymn provides wonderful evidence of the fact that beer was in fact a staple of the culture of that time around Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) and archaeologists have also discovered chemical traces of beer in a fragmented jar dating from the mid-fourth century BC. At the same site they also found evidence for early wine-making and it is thought that the idea of brewing beer arose from baking, perhaps discovered from the fermentation process that was seen with grains that had been left out too long.
As only fresh water was used in making beer, and it had to be boiled as part of the process, it may have been a case that, quite by accident, they discover it was healthier to drink than the water from the local canals which could be polluted by human and animal waste. The beer also contained nutrients other drinks didn’t and when included as part of a staple diet of the Mesopatamians, they realised they felt better, and not just because of the alcohol. From the evidence of art works also found throughout the region dating from ancient times, it’s clear that beer was consumed daily in great quantities by the people. No wonder they gave prayers of thanks to Ninkasi.
So there you have it – official confirmation that the ladies of the bar at not in fact encroaching on a traditional male domain, but are simply re-claiming their ancient rights as the heavenly appointed village boozers – but we kind of knew that already ;0}
As we continue to sample the samples for the Craft Beer festival at the end of Aug someone asked the sensible question – what actually is a craft beer?
This was quite a shock – not the question itself, but the fact anyone was able to be anything close to sensible by that point. Anyway, now that the head’s cleared a bit – here goes……….
It’s Not Clear – Obviously!
Defining what qualifies as a craft beer can actually be quite difficult. I think the best definition I’ve seen is:
‘craft beer’ as beer made by a brewer that is small, independent, and traditional’
But as Craft beers become more popular there are quite a few hitting the market that might not fit neatly into this description, especially as the term “traditional” is open to interpretation.
Independent breweries appreciate the freedom to be able to use whatever ingredients they like to get those extra special flavours, but this might mean using more modern innovations such as coffee grounds or even chilli’s. So would this mean they are not classed as “traditional”.
Also, one of the big chains might invest in a small brewery but allow it to carry on growing and producing excellent beer without corporate interference, but it’s no longer independent.
And if sales are good, a small brewery will grow – that’s just good business – but it can stay true to its brewing methods and keep producing the beers that made it popular in the first place.
Ideal for Sussex Country Pubs
So I think the real test of whether a beer can truly be called “Craft” has to be in the taste. When beers are mass produced decisions are made about ingredients used and brewing techniques employed that have a lot to do with keeping the output high, and this is reflected in the flavour of the final product. When the time and effort is spent on making a beer that bit special, allowing certain flavours to develop, it really shows. When the big breweries pile in and try and make versions of Craft Beers that really don’t tick the boxes any seasoned beer drinker can tell the difference straight away – quality will always win out.
So come along to our good old Sussex Country Pub on the 26th – 29th Aug, get your taste buds around a selection of the Craft Beers on offer and see for yourself what all the fuss is about. By the end of the evening you might even agree with most of the staff here – who cares about a sensible question!