Are You Tasting the Pith? - 29th May 05
Look, I'm worried. I'm worried that my readers (yes, both of them) are getting alienated by my ever more esoteric choices of beer. It's all very well yapping on about the latest limited-edition bottling of this, or the joy at stumbling across such-and-such at a trade fair, or dusty little-known beer shop, but really, how is that user friendly? Perhaps it encourages people to try a bit harder in their hunt for the best beer in the world ever, but I'm not sure. Maybe it's offputting?
(As an aside, I found out recently that the good folk at The Oxford Bottled Beer Database have built in a secret feature. Any beer that is proclaimed by a reviewer to be "The Best Beer In The World Ever" is given a secret "BBITWE" code. You can find these beers by going to their site and typing BBITWE in the search box. And what a varied crew they are)
So when I burst a six-pack of Stella Artois (and not the fancy continental stuff, but the brewed-under-licence version), I thought "what the heck", and purchased them for my own consumption. So I sit here with a glass of Stella Artois / Smelly Tortoise / Wifebeater (never liked that joke to be honest) in front of me, and what do you know? It's not really that bad - a bit brackish, perhaps, and lacking the balance of its continental parent, notably the interplay between a slightly sappy malt body and a breezy seaside-fresh hop note, but still a pretty decent premium lager overall. Of course, I can still recall the smooth, mature, rich taste of Budvar as I drink my Stella (but never the other way round - strange, that), but as a cold fixer-upper after work, it's doing the job nicely.
Incidentally, I offered a can of Stella to my most fanatic real ale mate, and he was tempted - "Is it really cold?" was his immediate comeback - proving that even the devout can be swayed if there is nothing else on offer (sorry Wozzer).
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