All Our Yesterdayswas a lovely TV programme that only us old farts can remember. It looked back on the world as it used to be and was a nostalgist's wet dream. It is also nice sometimes, to look back through your drinking career and remember how things used to be and recall with rheumy eyed affection, the times when seeking out the new and unusual beer wise, was not only immensely enjoyable, but overwhelmingly exciting and when I used to drink a fair bit of bottled beer at home and even, God forbid now, lug them back from my holidays.
In a fit of nostalgia, earlier today, I was looking back at my old beer reviews on the Oxford Bottled Beer Datbase. Along with some other dodgy characters like Des De Moor and Jeff Pickthall, I used to search out the exotic and write about them for the benefit of the great unwashed and was part of a beer community before blogging and while Usenet was still going strong. I had forgotten some of the beers I reviewed and that, in part at least, I used to be reasonably good at it. I have proof of that, which I'll share with you later.
Most of the stuff I wrote was around 1999/2000 and the list of beers includes rare Dutch and French artisanal beers, American beers that even now you don't see here and even the odd supermarket atrocity, plus loads of German ones. Names to conjure with include Yellow Rose Vigilante Porter, St Martinus Rabenhaupt Witbier,San Miguel Cerveza de Invierno 98/99, Great Lakes Brewing Co. Burning River Pale Ale, De Tesselse Bierbrouwerij Skuum Koppe, Brasserie des Franches-Montagnes La Salamandre. Names that don't exactly trip off the tongue, even now.
Looking at some of the reviews I did of beers that still exist, it would be interesting to see if these self same beers would be written about by me in the same way, or whether they or me have changed so much, that it would appear to be a different beer entirely. That's the thing about beer reviews (and other things too), they are a snapshot in time and things change. Some obviously and some subtly, but few beers remain the same, even if the recipe doesn't change. I think most of us that drink a local beer by choice and habit are aware of that, some of us more poignantly than others, as to my mind at least, beers rarely change for the better.
I know I sometimes scoff slightly at exotics and the drinking and praising thereof, but looking back, I suppose it is a phase you go through on the path to true beery enlightenment down the pub. It was fun though and while I don't cart beers back these days, it was kind of exciting at the time. Who can forget the thrill of untangling beers from used socks and shirts and finding them still intact? Happy Days, but things move on and offer some unanticipated compensations. While there aren't many when growing old, looking back and saying "been there, done that", preferably with a shit eating grin, is one of them and smugly satisfying.
So ending on a high note, Uncle Tanders even gives you hope for the future when you are in your dotage. Things might not get better, but you were there first, in some ways at least.
Oh yes - I said I'd give you proof of my beery descriptive prowess. It doesn't get much better than this quote from my description of Mendocino Brewing Company Blue Heron Pale Ale on the Oxford Bottled Beer Database: "Not Mendocino's greatest achievement flavour-wise (Peter Alexander's description is spot-on as usual) but a very beautiful bottle and label design which qualify it for my "Hall of Fame" bottle shelf above the bar." Jeff Pickthall
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink. He also judges beer at both the International Beer Challenge and the World Beer Awards.
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