Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Beer Need Not Be Filtered. Options Must Be.

One of these days, on one of these sporadic and lucky visits to Britain, I really ought to get out of London. The problem with London is that there are too many choices. They overwhelm the Traveler with Thirst.

So you narrow things down. Same applies to anywhere with lots of beautiful places to drink. We can't see them all in one go. Time, money, livers, spouses -- these are finite resources.

Even those of us who get to London once or twice a year, if we are lucky, fall back on an old favorite or two. It's easier that way. When it comes to cask ale it's not a bad strategy anyway -- if the beer was in good shape there last time, there is a decent chance it will be today. Maybe.

(Interlude, for a confession: As a Traveler with Thirst I don't really care about British "craft beer." It's OK as a curiosity. As a journalist it's interesting. But these days you can get aromatic, bitter IPA nearly anywhere in the world. Even Costa Rica. Even Germany. Why would I drink that in the UK, which has its own, special, underappreciated thing? Yes, I can see how folks who have drunk brown bitter all their lives might be bored with it. I'm not.)

Also, you can't just go to beer pubs, right? I mean, London is an important city historically. There are things to learn. You have to take in some culture. Cultural experiences are important. That's why, when in London, you need to eat curry. So, we went to a curry pub.

We went to the Warwick Arms. I don't know if anyone else will mention this place to you. Maybe. It's a Fuller's pub, which is another nice thing that bores London beer people. I won't say that Londoners are bored with curry, because that is scientifically impossible. It's in the DNA. Of the cumin. But it could be that cozy pub in the front with an Indian curry house party in the back has a certain logic to British people. "Of course there are curry pubs, harumph," says the major. To everyone else it's just a marvel.

We drank a summer seasonal. The Beachcomber, maybe? To be honest we had been at the Great British Beer Festival all day. We were not qualified to judge it. The curry disappeared as if it were ambrosia. Cultural experience, that's the point.

Also, it was near our hotel. And that's another way to narrow down the options: proximity. I might want to go to the Southampton Arms and Gunmakers every time I'm in London (and I do). But THEY are on the OTHER side of town, and I am on THIS side.

So where are the neighbors drinking?