Friday 4 March 2011

The Session #49: A Regular Beer

I don’t have a regular beer, a beer I always have in the fridge, something which is replaced as quickly as it’s emptied, like milk or ketchup. This struck me last week and bothered me slightly. When was the last time I drank four of the same beer in one night without any concession to geeking out on something new or exotic? When was the last time I just sat back and drank like a regular guy, opening something simple for the pure pleasure of just drinking a beer from the bottle and not thinking about it? It was too long ago.

But I buy too much beer. I’ve got backlogs in the cupboard, a fridge filled with new tastes, a separate cupboard 20 miles away with the good stuff in, and to ignore those is to increase the backlog even further. In the pub too, it’s always something different. Only if it’s very good do I return for another otherwise it’s on to something else (given only three lagers on tap I’d probably drink a pint of each).

Here’s the thing: I don’t have space in my house for a regular bottled beer and I’m too curious a drinker to stick to one beer all night in the pub.

It wasn’t always like this. University was the time. Always a box of Kronenberg, Carlsberg or Rolling Rock, straight from the fridge, drunk from the bottle. No tasting notes, no need for fancy glassware, no thinking. And I enjoyed drinking this way. When I opened a Budweiser recently it made me realise that I need to drink more regular beer, more no-brainer beer – I drink beers to chill out after work, after the gym, after the day is done, so taking a bottle and a notepad and a nice glass is like I’m still working.

I need to make space in my fridge for a regular beer. It’s got to be a small bottle so I can drink it straight from the fridge, no glass required. That’s essential. It’s something to open and gulp as soon as I get in from work, taking the cap off the beer before the shoes off my feet, the first mouthful hitting my tongue as my backside hits the sofa. That’s what regular beer means to me and I need to make a concession to the geek within and let him have the night off occasionally.


The Session #49 is hosted this month by Stan Hieronymus at Appellation Beer. It’s about regular beer, but you’ve hopefully guessed that by now.


  1. I'm not really a home drinker, but when I'm down the pub my most regular beer is Thornbridge Kipling. Of course it helps that I live not too far from the Thornbridge tap pub.

    Previous regular beers include Crouch Vale Brewer's Gold and Fat Cat Honey Ale.

  2. I'm in a similar situation, being a curious drinker, but I don't think a beer has to be a no-brainer beer to be a regular beer (in the sense of something to have regularly, while chilling). It just has to be something you've already made your notes on, so can go free-form on it ;) My regular beer, right now, is Schlenkerla Maerzen and the Eiche, just because I bought a stash of them. I'm not drinking many new beers lately, so everything is just drinking :D And if it's something more "ordinary", there's a dearth of choice here, and it's as cheap as chips.

  3. I too have an extensive selection of "special" beers I'm keeping for some mythical occasion. I agree with Barry you don't have do grab a bottle of macro lager to enjoy a "regular beer". Personally my usual suspects are Fullers London Porter, Youngs Double Chocolate Stout and Goose Island IPA. I can take a walk up to the main road and get a respectable range of beer. If I only want to roll out as far as the Spa on the corner I can get Saltaire and Williams Bros. But more and more my go-to beer is my homebrew. Well, when you've got 40+ bottles you better brew something you'll like.

  4. I can see where you're coming from Mark, I've always flitted from one beer to the next like a bee at a flower show, but since starting the blog I feel like I'm analysing everything and trying to make some sort of note, physical or mental about what to write up next. I've only been blogging for a few weeks, god knows what your weary drinking brain thinks!

    My local is the Titanic Brewery tap in Stoke, I used to drink Titanic a lot but generally always go for the ever changing guest ales. So now generally when I'm out I'd go for something like a St Bernadus or Achels Extra Dark as a no brain finisher, both maybe a bit elaborate for what you're thinking but I just know what I'm going to get and that I'm gonna love it. Funnily enough I had several tins of Old Speckled Hen in the fridge until last week that had been there since pre Christmas, I took them out to make space... Cheers Phil

  5. I've been thinking a bit about this lately too. It extends beyond what you're drinking to the way you drink. Pub visits can often become all about the beer and nothing else, trying to stay sober enough to fit in as many different beers as possible. Not because I’m turning ratebeer and want to tick boxes but because I've a genuine love for beer and an inquisitive mind that just wants to try as many different beers as possible.

    The actual act of just going to a pub to hang out becomes more and more rare. In a way, I think I've lost the ability to just "have a beer" now. I don't think I'll ever be 100% happy with drinking average beer and I don't think I can drink good beer without instinctively dissecting it in my head. Is that a bad thing? Yes, I’ve lost something, but when I consider the people I’ve met and the good fun I’ve had when drinking beer in this “geeky” way, it more than balances out.

    I think forcing yourself to drink a regular beer sort of defeats the point. A few pub trips on a Sunday afternoon to just hang out and drink 4 pints of Hophead though, between Brewdog Abstrakt launch nights and those one off bottles in the fridge ... that sounds like a good addition to anyone’s calendar.


  6. I think "forcing" anything is a waste of time. I think it all depends about the setting. If you're in a pub with fellow geeks, then it's a lot of fun to go on an exploration. But it's often better to just take what's nice and easy-drinking, and let the social lubricant properties of beer work their magic, and take it for what it is. That's not to say I won't go for something different on each order if the choice is there, but if every beer has to be analysed... well, enough said. If I find something new in the pub, I'll still make some notes, but I'll get them out of the way. Maybe I'm lucky that my local pubs have sod all variety, so a social beer is exactly that :D

  7. The last beer i drank 4 of in the same night at home was Monsieur rock, before that it was SN pale and 5AM saint because I bought a load from morrisons.

    In the pubs round here you don't have much choice than one or two beers, so i quite regularly drink the likes of landlord or doombar or askrigg ale all night.

    Other than that it doesn't really bother me, I like trying different beers, some of which I'd love to be able to drink more regularly, others not so much. If i see cases of beer on offer i buy them, drink them and dont think much about it.

  8. I too have bulging beer cupboards, but a lot of the beers are at 'normal' strength and hoppiness so I guess would count as regular beer. Down the pub it depends what's on offer. Sometimes I'll flit around, sometimes I'm happy sticking with one.

  9. I sympathize with your.... problem(?)... of too much backlog of beer. I was just commenting on my wife about that same issue last night. It seems as if I am always buying more beer than I consume. My apartment is rapidly becoming a place to store said beer. But, a regular beer is also always good to have as you said.

  10. Interesting you you should highlight your homebrew as your go to beer, Rob. I took it up cos I couldn't afford £20 a week in Tesco's and it has really broadened my beer loving horizons but I find I have brewed now to extremes; the three I've got in cornies are a smoked porter, an insanely hopped American PA and a Belgian Dubbel.

    I went to Kent Amateur Brewers on Wednesday and tasted a really simple (but utterly gorgeous) all pale recipe with Stryians and immediately really craved it.

    Might make on next week actually.

  11. I suppose I've become much the same way, whether drinking at home or out, flitting from beer to beer in search of some mythical nirvana. The only time I tend to stick to one beer is when I go to my local (The Dolphin in Sydenham). They have three beers (London Pride, Doom Bar and TT Landlord) and never have a guest beer. So I pretty much stick to Landlord at all time, unless it's not at its best when I go to the Doom Bar. And if I get reall bored I'll switch to Leffe. It's a safe drink choice but a convivial pub with good food so I'm more than happy to park my ever increasing beer geekery at the door when I go in.

  12. I'm claiming you stole my article.

    Pretty much the same thing, but British, and not as good ;)

  13. I'm on the page that you shouldn't have "special" anythings like beer, glasses, plates, clothes etc. Drink that beer today! That special occasion is right now. You can buy another one. Get those nice plates out for your meal this evening. Heck, you might break one but life won't end. Unlike the chance your life might end with all those special things in the cupboards gathering dust.

    Live for today, not tomorrow. PS - this doesn't apply to money & savings I'm afraid...

    Aside from this, I have been spending much time pondering upon CAMRA Pub of the Year and the focus of beer enthusiasts on never ending variation (and therefore multi-pump free houses featuring strongly). We've never had it so good. I wouldn't beat yourself up on not having a regular beer. I always feel that those people who stick to the same drink out of habit are missing out on so much.

  14. I tend to keep a stash of 'Fridge Beer' stuff I can open up and not worry about finding it again etc. That said I also have a cupboard full of special beers which I open when I'm in the mood. When it comes to going to the pub things can be limited, my local serves Pedigree and Hobgoblin. A limited choice of which i usually drink Pedigree and am quite happy to sup it all night. Venturing a little further to Burton offers the delights of Burton Bridge, Coopers Tavern & the Brewery Tap. In which I rarely drink 2 of the same beer due to the varied choice.