The beer/life balance is a perennial concern: trying to sate my curiosity for new beers while staying on the upright side of healthy; trying to enjoy favourites and home-made beers while also leaving space for the new ticks and their new tricks; trying to keep a variety of beer types in stock so every drinking mood can be accommodated, without overly hoarding; local or foreign; industrial or nano; stay home or go to the pub: it's a plate spinning exercise and one where I don't always keep the crockery intact.
Bryan of This Is Why I'm Drunk has chosen "Finding Beer Balance" as the topic for this month's Session, and having just set out some of the matrix of beer choices, I don't think I have a proper answer. But perhaps no answer is required.
Beer is, if nothing else, varied. It's rather odd to think that this product is made all over the world and yet gets shipped all over the world too. The styles, the strengths, the fashions and the methods vary so hugely that a drinker picking and ticking randomly enough may find that the world of beer balances itself. The golden rule is a simple one: drink all the beer. You might need to put in that extra mile to get some variety in your diet, but for me it's always worth doing. Balance in variation is why I'm still tasting, learning and enjoying beer and have no plans to become settled in my tastes.
So with all that in mind, I'm drinking a beer that's pretty much from as far left-field as I can find: Sullivan's Traditional Irish Ginger Beer from Co. Kilkenny, kindly gifted by the lovely Dave. "Traditional" always gives me white knuckles when it appears on beer labels, but they talk a good game here, explaining that commercial ginger beer production was a genuine activity in late 19th century Ireland, dying out at the beginning of the 20th. The substance itself is very strange: 2% ABV and a wan hazy greenish white. "serve ice cold, optional over ice, slice of citrus" says the neck label, but I'll leave that new experience to the next time.
The flavour is very strange. The expected ginger kick didn't arrive and instead there's just a Canada Dry ginger flavour lacking any sort of burn. The base flavour is a sweet and sugary white lemonade thing -- doubtless due to the inclusion of traditional Irish limes listed on the ingredients -- plus a rather disconcerting sour milk lactic tone to it, which also comes out in the aroma. This isn't helped by the relatively full body and very light carbonation. I should add that my bottle is a couple of months past the best before so perhaps it tastes cleaner when fresh.
For all that, I rather enjoyed the weirdness of it. I'd prefer a bit more spice, and it strikes me that a two litre jug would make a better serving size than a 33cl bottle, but it's certainly different. And when seeking balance and variation, different is an absolute good.
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