It’s no secret by now that I’m quite a fan of tea, scones, cheese and all things good and delicious.
What you might not have known however, is that I’m also a very big fan of beer. As our friend Mark from Brewtown pointed out, it is just as complex as any drink and the stories that go with the drink are... Entertaining.
It is therefore with high expectations and lots of excitement that I joined Mark on one of his Leeds Brewery Tours. It was also with very little surprise that I came away absolutely satisfied and full of newly found knowledge in the very diverse (and sometimes strange) world of beer.
By the Way: Do NOT attempt to go on an empty stomach. ;-)
An afternoon out with Mark and his van takes you back to the very heart and roots of the beer brewing process. The first stop has you sip on beer samples all very different from one another while peering into the multiple tanks required to produce (one of ) Britain's national drink. The beer you get from microbreweries is a world - no- a galaxy away from your typical supermarket drink. Hence why everyone should join the tour.
The first beer we tried was a sour one. Yes, the name isn’t exactly appealing, but trust me, the citrus and forced rhubarb flavoured Volta is superbly light and refreshing, making it a perfect summer’s drink. As we found out during the tour, the English microbreweries are all about producing a product that is creative, interesting and, of course, quite delicious. They experiment with new flavours, techniques and ideas and while some results can be ….er… surprising, it’s amazing to see how diverse the world of beer really is. As Mark makes very clear at the beginning of the tour, you are not obliged in any way to finish a drink you don’t like. They always used to tell us not to play with our food so for once, just enjoy tasting for the sake of tasting and if you don't like it, just leave it there!
So apart from trying out cool flavoured beers with funky flavours and designs how are the 4 hours of the tour occupied? One of my favourite bit i this sort of tour is how much chit and chat and all the good laughs you get in an afternoon. While it's not all about drilling facts into your head, you do get into very interesting conversations on the history of beer and it’s social, economic and political ties.
So what makes beer drinking in the UK different from that in Germany or Belgium? What makes the same product - beer - so unique to it’s country of origin? I’m not going to tell you any of these answers here (you have to get on a tour for those) but I can tell you that whether you are an avid beer drinker or not, it's definitely worth having a think about.
Beer, like tea, is perhaps one of the most-loved food (well, truly, drink) tradition of the British and yet, how many of us actually know why that is? Beer drinking, like tea drinking, is embedded within the culture and I do think making the effort to learn a tad more about their respective history can shed a ray of light on our society, culture and values. And if you’re totally new to the UK? What a better way than to drink your way down History lane and discover what really makes this country tick?
The verdict? Tried it, loved it. Every single last bit. I'm already thinking about which other tour I will take!
And because these things are never said loudly enough...
Thank you Mark for a great afternoon!