A conversation regarding the infamous Deus ‘champagne beer’ got me thinking about how I managed to get so into beers that I’m now writing in my beer blog a couple of times a week. What actually got the obsession started? This is self-indulgent, yes, but it’s the kind of writing the day job doesn’t give me.
It all goes back to the day job and an interview with a chap called Nino (then bar manager at bustling Leeds bar Reform, now bar manager at the very swanky bar in Harvey Nichols Fourth Floor Cafe). He told me that, at the time, Reform was the only bar in Leeds to be selling Deus.
Now, imagine trying Deus as an impressionable young journalist with so little knowledge of beer he considered Kronenbourg 1664 as a quality beverage. It was fairly mind blowing. Realising my lack of context in trying Deus, Nino kindly shipped out a load of beers for me to try to help me understand Deus. I’m not sure exactly which beers I tried (four or five different beers all around or above 8% when you’re used to 5% can blow the mind some what) but I’m pretty sure I had Delerium and Leffe Radieuse, amongst others.
That was a start, but it was two chaps that many Leeds beer lovers will know – Christian and Matt from North Bar – who really got me intrigued. Again, this was down to the day job. Previewing North’s various festivals presented me with tastes of a whole range of exciting Belgian (gueuze), American (Arrogant Bastard, Victory and more) and German beers (loads), and other columns in my magazine gave me a chance to sample the excellent Schneider Aventinus and, best of all the Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Oh, and then there was a very fruitful trip to Smokestack where I learnt all about Sierra Nevada Big Foot and took home four bottles of the brewery’s various produce.
You can then add to that excellent education a winter trip to Bruges (cue, lots of monastic, Trappist and red beers to keep warm) a summer trip to Brussels (gueuze, several times a day) and a few trips to the Devonshire Cat in Sheffield.
Between all that, I’ve picked up a passion, if not an expect knowledge (I’m still learning about the technical side of brewing, what different yeasts and hops do, and so on), and clearly become a little obsessed.
Oh, and I’ve succesfully managed to bore whoever’s been reading this too. Blame the people I’ve written about up there.