Brewed and bottled by: Budejovicky Budvar, Czech Republic
How they bill it: “Our premium pale lager is beer for real connoisseurs. The first-class female cones of top-quality Saaz hops, pure clean natural water from 300-metre deep artesian wells and carefully selected grains of a unique cultivar of Moravian barely make the premium lager a drink for real beer experts.”
My take: Instantly invigorating with a hint of discipline. Like those crazy dudes who swim in winter. Feels like you've just broken the ice and dived in. Refreshed, proud of yourself, feeling invincible … and ready to get back to work and do your duty.
Drink with beef goulash and the sounds of Please The Trees ...
Brewed and bottled by: Pact Beer Co, Canberra, Australia
How they bill it: “We’ve taken the traditional Pale Lager - a clean, crisp refreshing beer and infused it with a farm full of Loral hops. Bringing equal parts old world noble and new world fruity hop awesomeness, the L yeah is an everyday beer with character, exposing melon, citrus, and fresh cacao.”
My take: This is a crisp-honeyed paradox, full of hidden treasures. A zingy burst on the tongue, and then it's gone leaving the warmth of a summer evening. It’s like a jovial highwayman, holding up your carriage. You hand over your jewels and money, but there’s repartee, and its full of bonhomie so you all end up back at their place, on the verandah for a late supper whilst you play Cards Against Humanity. Drink with fish and chips and the sounds of John Butler Trio.
Brewed and bottled by: Founders Brewing Co, USA.
How they bill it: Lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice and a scintilla of dark fruit.
My take: This is not just a great stout, it's more like unexpectedly running into an old friend on the way home ... deciding to have a quick drink which morphs into an allnighter replete with pool, table thumping, possibly mooning a passer-by, belly laughter and mellow, whiskey-drenched reflections of times past; then emerging into the new day bleary eyed but so very satisfied that you still got it in you. Drink with roast pheasant and the sounds of The Tinder Box.
Red Rose Amber Ale
Brewed and bottled by: Baird Brewing Company, Japan.
How they bill it: richly fruity & malty, yet crisp and dry
My take: No idea how a beer can be romantic, but this one is. Starts off with the familiarity of a European beer but ends up with an unmistakable Japanese quality that wraps around your tongue, like a deep, long kiss by William Shakespeare ... but he's carrying a samurai sword instead of a quill. Drink with teppanyaki beef and the sounds of the Yoshida Brothers.
Brewed and bottled by: The Wild Beer Co, UK.
How they bill it: A zesty summer special gose (traditional german-style sour wheat beer)
My take: Like having a hose turned on you by your whacky-but-favourite aunt at the family barbie on a hot day ... instant refreshment ... but not a serious beer, more like a mixer you could have with gin ... although there's this cool phenomenon of feeling bubbles go up your nose and on your tongue, even though the beer is only barely carbonated. Drink with cheezels and the sounds of Bananarama.
Brewed and bottled by: Haandbryggeriet, Norway.
How they bill it: A traditional norwegian smoked ale with juniper berries.
My take: From the moment it hits your tongue it tells a wild, woody, earthy story of a long day hunting, without you having to leave the fireplace. Drink with venison and the sounds of Wardruna.