Thursday, December 3, 2009

Beer Here

Sweet baby Jesus, I love beer. I really do. It wasn't love at first taste. My dad used to let me have a sip of his every now and then from the time I was twelve or so, but I enjoyed the novelty more than the taste. ("Look! I'm grown-up! And manly!") On special occasions at university, some friends I would buy Coronas and shove so much lime into them they tasted like the ready-to-mixes we were so accustomed to. Eventually, I switched to drinking Toohey's Extra Dry when out because it was cheaper than vodka and less awful than goon sunrises, a particularly vicious concoction at the university bar.

But this economical consideration eventually turned into real love, and I consider myself something of a connoisseur. Not snobby, necessarily, but I know what I like and enjoy learning about different brewing methods and such. Apart from seeing the various sights one expects to see on a European trip, I wanted to achieve two things while over here: 1) assess and explore the standing of English in the wider world (more on that later) and 2) drink lots of beer.

I am proud to say I succeeded.

Anyway, this is what I learned.

Polish beer is excellent. (So is Polish food, and I now regularly stuff my face with borscht, golabki and pierogi in a most undignified fashion.) Tyskie, Okocim (owned by Carlsberg) and Zywiec (owned by Heineken) are lovely, although Zywiec is a darker beer and I was expecting a lighter lager. But my favourite, by a long shot, was Lech. Mmh. Lech. Sounds gross, but is most delicious. I will drink it any chance I get. I was quite stoked when I arrived in Copenhagen, and discovered that Carlsberg is their local beer: it's on tap everywhere, like Toohey's New back home. But still, it was mor eexpensive than Carlsberg back home. Being Denmark, where you have to sign a form promising the shopkeeper your first- (or second- or third- or fourth-) born child before they will release any goods into your keeping, a pint is stupidly expensive and could buy a small house in the southern suburbs of Sydney.

Czech beer was even better. This didn't surprise me, as its reputation preceded it. Pilsner Urquell (which sold for about fifty Australian cents per half litre) and Budweiser Budvar are the two biggest, and I can fortunately find them with relative ease in London. However, whenever I encounter Budweiser, I must ask if it is the American or Czech brewed version. One, you see, is a delicious beer, while the other is watered down dog urine. This problem also plagues Stella Artois. Stella Artois is considered a premium beer in Australia. It's a lovely beer, originating in Belgium, and I drank a lot of it in Holland (alongside delicious Dutch beers like Heineken and Grolsch). Anyway, in England, Stella Artois is a disgusting chav beer that tastes like ball sweat.

One beer that stays the same over the world is Foster's. It tastes consistently execrable.

I went to a delightfully tacky Australian restaurant in Germany. I ordered the kangaroo wrap (which was unusual: although I cook kangaroo frequently - oh, quit your gasps, Europeans, they're a pest - you rarely see it on menus in Australia) and a Foster's, as it was the only Australian beer on the menu.

Foster's are ingenious. They've marketed their beer as the Australian beer of choice, so Walkabouts and other Aussie-themed venues around the world stock up on it big time. But here's the secret, Europeans: nobody in Australia drinks that shit. We have some delicious, world-class beers: Cooper's, Little Creatures, Blue Tongue, even Carlton Draught is a tasty beer.

But Fosters.

That shit is awful.

The moral of the story is don't drink Stella Artois in England and don't drink Foster's anywhere.

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