I have a simple palate at the best of times. For example, before I went vegan* I used to love Jelly Bellies. They come in 50 nature-identical flavours and I used to enjoy picking one without looking, putting it in my mouth and trying to identify the flavour. There was buttered popcorn, lemon cheesecake, several types of citrus, cotton candy, watermelon, cantaloupe, caramel apple, red apple, green apple, etc, etc. Very infrequently could I tell what was in my mouth (only the most obvious – licorice, root beer, peanut butter, orange, jalapeno and so on). The flavours are extremely faithful – when you know what they are they are spot on. But the little jelly bean format always confuses. Turns out it’s just the same with beer. Honestly – grapefruit? Biscuit? You don’t say.
Anyway, I went to the Great British Beer Festival on Thursday with Matt, B (we did the Inn Way in Cumbria last year) and B’s work friends. I wasn’t in the mood that night for some reason. B pointed out that there was a tour for “my lot”. I was quite surprised but it wasn’t Jews this time – he meant women.
It was in three minutes. I thought it might pass the time and give me one up on Matt and B so I drained my third-of-a-pint glass and hurried to join it. We congregated near the office of Earls Court. Suddenly a young woman with the splendid physique of an innkeeper’s grown-up daughter crowded into a plunging fuscia pink top exploded into our (rather mousey) group. This was Melissa Cole, leader of the Girls’ Guide To The Beer Festival. I was very impressed because there are a lot of hairy men with tankards on chains round their necks at the beer festival. They also found her arresting. By the time I had sampled my five different beers I felt I knew a fair bit more than Matt or B, based on their grunt-like analyses on the Inn Way. I won’t go into it but I think I like an old hop and darker malt. Melissa Cole was extremely knowledgeable, funny, articulate and – if it doesn’t sound shmaltzy – passionate about beer. And she wasn’t a wanker whatsoever. Ah, bonhomie – I want her life.
When I arrived backand told B that I’d had free beer the look on his face became very misogynistic and his voice high pitched.
I didn’t know Melissa Cole was at the time but oh hello, here she is peeping blondely over a glass in – I find this highly amusing – the Watersports section of Observer Escape where she is ‘Beer Girl’. I never even read it – I will from now on. How modest – all she said was that she’s a writer and critic.
And here she is taking the beard out of beer (I liked the Deuchars XPA too).
Postscript – conserving the British pub and British brewing seems like a good idea to me but you sometimes get the slight sense there might be an incontinent bulldog under the table. At the festival they sell things like this:
I searched the Web for CAMRA “British National Party ” -camera and some other searches. It’s perfectly fine – not too much Stormfront.
* No, I’m not ready to stop drinking when I go out. I gave up Jelly Bellies so leave me alone.