- Do you need to brew to appreciate beer?
- Do you enjoy beer more not knowing how it’s made?
- If you brew, can you still drink a beer just for fun?
- Can you brew without being an analytical drinker?
- Do brewers get to the point where they’re more impressed by technical achievements than sensory delight?
- Does more knowledge increase your awe in front of a truly excellent beer?
I get a lot out of my half-assed brewing efforts. I think I appreciate beer better and I think I'm better at writing about it too. And, as an added bonus, I also get beer, cheaply, twenty litres at a time.
Before I began brewing, I generally had a designated house beer: something, usually a kind lager, that I would stock up on in quantity and could just open and drink whenever I felt like a beer but was unfussy about the sort. Home brewing changed that, and when I'm after a beer that doesn't necessarily need thinking about it'll come from my own stash. Previously, my house beer was usually a cheap and cheerful pale lager, but my taste for hoppy ales -- one of the main drivers behind my taking up home brewing -- changed that, and a light and fruity pale ale is my usual go-to style. If I hadn't become a home brewer I wonder what would have happened to the whole house beer thing. Would I have stuck it out with the lagers (still nothing wrong with a decent, cheap, lager), or would I have traded up to something hoppier by now?
Recently I came across a possible answer in the form of O'Shea's Traditional Irish Pale Ale, brewed by the Carlow Brewing Company exclusively for Aldi. 4.3% ABV and a mere €1.79 a bottle makes it a very likely contender for fire-and-forget refreshment. I do think the word "traditional" in the title is stretching an already-overused beer term well past its breaking point, however.
Anyway, it pours out a clear pale gold and the aroma gives more of a lager malt golden syrup effect only lightly infused with citric bitterness. I confess I was expecting something akin to the hop hit of its big brother O'Hara's IPA but there's none of that: just a breeze of grass 'n' grapefruit across the tongue, backed by a gentle graininess. The end result isn't at all punchy, but is fresh, easy-drinking and well worth the money.
Best of all, with just a short soak in warm water the labels peel off completely cleanly.