Amateur Night

New Year's Beers

New Year’s Eve, like Christmas Eve, is amateur night, only more so. Those people who only drink once or twice a year, who therefore haven’t put in the requisite training, come out to drink. The bars are too crowded, too many people don’t know how to get served, there’s an air of desperate fun.

And then, once oblivion has been almost reached, a long walk home through cold and ice and fog and…

I’ve done my fair share of New Year’s Eves and, whilst I often fear we jinx each year, the thought that the hangover on 1 January marks the point from which things can only get better is not reassuring.

I have in a Angels and Demon’s Racing Tiger 4.2%, a Gaddis Black Pearl Oyster Stout 6.2%, a Canterbury Belgo Russian Imperial Stout 9.1% and a ‘t Kolleke Jheronimus 7%, with Crème de Cassis, sloe gin and a run of whiskies if that doesn’t do the trick.

And nibbles. And the bedside lamp already on.

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Fancy a Brú?

It began with a decision, a couple of years ago, to drink something appropriate for 17 March. Or, if you’re one of those idiots who likes Pi Day, March 17. St Patrick’s Day is one of those difficult days, like Christmas Eve and especially New year’s Eve, that brings out the amateur drinker who’s not put in the requisite limbering up.

but it was harder than I thought it would be to drink something Irish and to be honest I’ve lost track of whether I was successful two or three times. At some point I visited the excellent Bottle Shop in the Goods Shed; one year I bought an An Brain Blásta and the next year they went down to their basement and found me a Porterhouse Oyster Stout, which I have to say was a bit … fishy. Perhaps it was the East Goldings Hops.*

The following year … nada.

The problem is that whilst they have lots of interesting British beer and import American and European beer, there’s no call for Irish.

Apparently the Irish don’t drink beer.

Not to worry, I thought, I’ll visit the Porterhouse pub in London and ask to buy a bottle of their beer. They looked at me blankly. They denied they make bottled beer.

Odd.

I had called or visited two or three specialist beer shops in London and got the same answer — there’s no demand.

Apparently the Irish don’t drink beer. And we don’t drink Irish beer.

I suppose, at a push, there’s wotsit… Caffrey’s, but that’s part of Coors. As Irish as apple pie, perhaps.

Brú Rua

Brú Rua

This year, however, I hit pay dirt in a newsagents in that most green of cities, Brighton.** On a shelf that included a number of interesting beers from Sussex and beyond, there were two types of Brú Brewery beers, Brú Rí (an IPA) and Brú Rua (an Irish Red Ale). Daire Harlin and Paddy Hurley set up Brú Brewery in Trim, County Meath, July 2013 and are producing what they are calling craft beers. This is a contested term, but they say their water is naturally filtered and lacks nasty ions and the malts are Irish. I’m not clear where their hops are from, but they are using full cone hops — as opposed to the pellets that some breweries use I guess

The IPA wasn’t fantastic, to be honest, but there’s the Brú Rua in my future tonight.

And so, next year, who knows? How can I drink Irish beer?

* These are local to me and I believe are used by Shepherd Neame. I try not to drink Shepherd Neame.

** I’d give you the address but I don’t know it. On your right on the road down from the station. There are a couple of newsagents and this was, I think, on a corner. I was looking for peace poppies at the time and was getting increasingly angry.