It’s been quiet around here, ain’t it? No posts in July or September and this is only the ninth post since the end of April. Considering I’ve averaged over 170 posts a year in the last three years, that’s pretty slack. I’ve not just sacked the blog off, I’ve been pretty busy and in that time I’ve been to Chicago, San Diego, Brussels, Copenhagen, Greece, northern Italy and Denver (plus Leeds, Manchester and lots of time in London), my little sister got married, I’ve written a few freelance beer pieces, I’ve moved house, I’ve changed my working life (less time in the brewery, more at home trying to earn cash from writing) and I’ve written a beer book.
The beer book is the big one. I had a four month deadline to write 80,000 words. It ended up taking almost five months of me getting up at 5am every day and working a few hours every evening. It was damn hard work, especially working full time for most of it. The book is done now and with designers. It’ll be out in spring next year. Given all the research and all the travel, I’ve got lots of things to write about and it’s time to catch up on all of them.
To get it rolling, here’s one memorable beer from each of the places I’ve been to this year. It comes five days after this blog should've celebrated its fourth birthday, which I forgot. That kind of shows you, along with the above, that it's been a busy, strange kind of year...
Chicago. Intelligensia Coffee. Not a beer, obviously. We drank a lot of good beer but the coffee was the thing I remember more. We even got a tour around the roastery as it’s next door to Goose Island’s brewery. The coffee is in Dark Lord. We went to Dark Lord Day. Dark Lord (Day) sucks. Gumballhead by Three Floyds does not suck. It’s awesome.
San Diego. Stone Ruination IPA at the brewery. It was the beer which made me love IPAs and getting it fresh was brilliant.
Brussels. Cantillon Lambic, obviously. It was my second visit to the brewery and if it was my 102nd then I still think I’d be as excited about being there and drinking the lambic.
Copenhagen. Bourbon-barrel-aged Westvleteren 12. Seriously. Struise brought this along as a secret special and it was insane.
Leeds. Beer Bloggers Conference. Unfiltered Pilsner Urquell, drunk with friends, while laughing harder than I’ve laughed in a long time.
London. I’ve spent most of my time in London at Camden Town Brewery. Rude Boy, the 6.8% American-hopped lager, is dangerous by the stein but I can’t help slamming pints of it.
Greece. Cold Mythos, obviously. Sitting on the beach, at sundown, eating fresh fish.
Northern Italy. Birrificio Italiano Tipopils on tap. It might be my favourite beer in the whole world.
Manchester. Lovibonds Sour Grapes. Jeff finally let some leave the brewery but if I was him then I’d just be sitting in there drinking it all myself. WOW it’s good.
Denver. The second and then the last beer I drank was Pliny the Elder. I still can’t resist ordering it when I see it. Honorary mention, because it’s fresh in my mind, is Crooked Stave’s Oculus. Crooked Stave is incredible. Denver is getting a third beer: I judged a few categories at GABF and one of them was Barrel-Aged Strong Beer. There was an old ale (aged in wine barrels or bourbon, I can’t remember) in there that was simply spectacular and I have no idea what it was.