Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Beer and a book....but what goes best??

One thing that Ive found myself to enjoy more and more over last couple of years (other then beer and now blogging of course) is reading. Now I know for most people, reading is no big whoop, but for didn't always come naturally. I spent time from time at primary school in a special needs class for reading, writing and maths which also carried on to secondary school until due to budget cuts etc... they got rid of special needs classes (nice one). So stuck in a school that unless you had a medical reason to struggle i.e dyslexia, ADHD wouldn't get much more help above the ever helpful "well pay more attention then" so reading proper books was something that always seemed daunting, and reading a novel...unlikely. Luckily, in my later years at school, I started to get better at reading and writing (although as I say often in this blog...its still not great) and in year 10 I read my first novel which was owing to a new film coming out at the time, a James Bond book...Casino Royale in fact. After that I started to read more and more and now I would say that my readings as good as it needs to be, and I'm enjoying reading books that as an early teenager...I would of never guessed I could.

Right. I went slightly off topic there, but I'll bring it back to beer with this...what type of beer goes best when reading a good book? This is something that I know could have a lot of factors. The genre of the book, where I'm reading and just what mood I'm in, but I feel its something worth me testing just to see for myself (and for you dear readers aswell).

I'll try this over a course of a few evenings because wile having a beer or 2 might relax and make the book reading experience more enjoyable...getting smashed when trying to read just wont end well. The book I shall be reading is "Dragon Haven" by Robin Hobb which is the second novel in the Rain Wind Chronicles, and if its as good as the first...should be a bloomin good read. I'll say this now...I'm not reviewing the book in the blog and I wont be going into as massive detail of each beer as normal, only enough to give a good idea on how it suites to going with a book.

O.k. First up is a barley wine. Sierra Nevada's Bigfoot barley wine. A rich burgundy colour, chewy and with a sweet raisin flavour that's balanced nicely with the classic citric character of American hops gives this beer a distinctive taste. A 9.6% ABV its alcohol content is noticeable in the taste, but its matched well by the other flavours which helps its last longer on the palate and becomes a beer to savour, which in turn means this beer lasts a few chapters before the glass is drained. Just the kind of thing I'm looking for.

Next up is a German beer style...a weizenbock. Erdinger Pikantus is a rich deep brown beer with a sweet banana and cloves aroma which is typical for the style, but its creamy and full bodied mouth feel matched with an overly sweet prune, maltyness and a flavour fight that's joined with cloves, banana, brown sugar, a tad medicinal flavour with a slight yeast astringency sends this beer off in many different directions and makes it probably too complicated to enjoy when trying to concentrate on a book. A reasonable beer, but it has too much going on.

Now for a classic English premium bitter with Black Sheep Ale. A wonderful chestnut brown with the classic thick northern head. This beer is packed with flavour starting with the refreshingly dry bitterness of English hops that's soon followed by a sweet richness of oranges and toffee that's coats the tongue with lasting flavour. Plenty going on but unlike the Erdinger, its simple and quaffable and because its got a crisp, lasting taste it means you can just get down and enjoy the book. Fits the bill nicely.

Back to Germany for a lager, but not just any old larger ohh no, this is a Kellerbier.Kellerbier is one of the oldest beer styles in existence and its unfiltered, unpasteurised and is full of vitamins from the yeast still in the never mind the health pills, drink this! St Georgen Brau has a lovely toasty malt and slight tart fruit aroma with a nice buttery mouth feel and a strong malty back bone. Flavours of sweet honey, caramel and a smack of earthy hop bitterness...its very refreshing. Very similar book reading value as the Black Sheep Ale, but it goes down a bit faster, which is both a good and bad thing. I just wish all lager was this good!

Now we have Oerbier from De Dolle Brouwers (literally means "the mad brewers") brewery in Belgium. A deep tawny, chestnut brown colour with a faint lacing head with a good show of carbonation. Wonderfully Bramley apple nose with a sweet berry and malt background that's followed by a good alcohol kick. Creamy with a silk smooth body that flows beautifully over the tongue. Tart apple, a sweet Caramel maltyness and currents dominate the flavour, but with sharp oranges and honey following make this a lovely complex beer, but unlike the Erdinger, its
balances well enough to allow you to read and enjoy this beer for the fantastic brew it is. I wish had more room to describe it but I must move on. A new edition to my favourite beer list me thinks.

Well this is part 1. So far, I feel a good Strong beer with good flavour, but with not too much going on seems to be best for reading what I will say is a blood good book. I will continue this quest soon. Cheers for reading, and don't forget to look out for part 2 :)

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