One of my favorite beer writers, the incomparable Stephen Beaumont, wrote “it is not ‘just beer,’ it is a noble and ancient beverage which, like wine, food and television advertising, can be extraordinarily good or unmercifully bad."
This edition of Beer O’Clock focuses on the “unmercifully bad.”
When I was just a fledgling beer scribe, an impish brewer said to me: “Yeah, well, you like every beer ever made.” That comment made me stop and think. It certainly wasn’t true. There were plenty of beers so bad I wouldn’t serve them to Al Gore if he was on fire, but at the time it was true that I didn't really write about them. I wanted to concentrate on the positives and talk about all the great beers out there.
Of course, I eventually learned the lesson that most journalists and columnists know – vitriol sells. Readers often like hearing how “unmercifully bad” something is. This tendency applies to everything from sports to politics, from celebrities to food. It certainly includes beer.
My most popular articles have been my most scathing – pummelling the MASH range of “beer” (now defunct) or slating the Loaded Hog in
Trying a bottle of Desperados (5.9%) was a first for me. I had never had a French beer flavoured with Tequila before. It was different – but not in a good way. The beer throws up an unusual yet dodgy nose, like a shandy with some lime and even pineapple lurking in the background. The taste is fruity, sour and zesty with a light mouthfeel. It finishes with a sour lemon aftertaste which makes it hard to imagine drinking many of these. If confronted by a Desperados, the best advice is to surrender then run away.
A brand new arrival in
My review of Flame Beer (5.2%) prompted a number (two) of furious Letters to the Editor lasting year. My specially convened tasting panel concluded that Flame was “easy to carry, hard to drink”, “has a smell familiar to students who have set their couches on fire” and “I imagine this is what a jandal tastes like”. According to the angry correspondents, I was apparently unable to handle the “power” of Flame. I will let you know when I’ve stopped laughing.