Many of us who love beer record what we drink, in one way or another. Some review beers via video, some take photos, some make lists (Untappd: the acceptable face of beer ticking), and some write.
I find that writing about beer crystallises the experience, making you consciously analyse and put into words the feelings that are as yet a blur of unidentified aromas, flavours waiting to be named, and memories lurking just beyond your grasp. Memories which, when they are recorded, make up my favourite type of beer writing: concerning moments personal and precious to the writer.
Just as a beer can conjure up memories of people and places past, these pieces take me back to long, slow afternoons drinking and de-constructing good beer in dear company; to the serene moments spent in quiet contemplation, when your pint isn’t an object of scrutiny but is instead your companion in solitude; to the frantic bustle and noise and heat of a festival as you work your way through a whirlwind of different tastes and end up wildly off piste, veering away from your meticulously marked programme and towards a viscous, inappropriate barley wine while clutching in your other hand a smartingly hot but sorely needed pasty; until I can no longer quite recall if the memories are mine or theirs, and I’m filled with wanderlust, nostalgia, and inevitably, thirst.
That’s what captivates me, and and what keeps me writing. New places, experiences, whether unusual or utterly humdrum, and the tales we turn them in to. “What I did on my holidays” can be transportive. To live, and record, something ephemeral, and to have somebody else understand what you mean, how you felt, and recall moments and beers dear to them… It’s almost as good as drinking the stuff.