10 of the Best Beers

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The
only New Year’s resolution that I’ve managed to keep is to drink
more beer. Not more in terms of quantity, but more in terms of variety.

Given the nature
of my job I drink far more wine than beer, but sometimes only a
pint will do. The trouble is that I’m not as adventurous as I should
be. Instinctively I will opt for a soothing Guinness or a cold,
crisp Asahi. Shepherd Neame’s Bishops Finger is an old favourite
and Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted a new one, but I really should
broaden my horizons.

After all,
beers are so varied. They range in colour from white to pale yellow,
from brown to black. They can be 0 per cent volume or 25 per cent
and, if I was being mischievous, I would point out that wine relies
on just grapes and (sometimes) oak for flavour, whereas beer gets
its taste from a variety of cereals such as wheat and barley as
well as dozens of varieties of hop.

The texture
of beer can vary dramatically too, from cold fizzy lagers, to warm
spicy bitters and creamy stouts and porters. And most go surprisingly
well with food. The other evening my friend Sion produced a spectacular
feast of smoked trout blinis, watercress soup, game terrine, steak
and kidney pie, English cheeses and sticky toffee pudding. We matched
each course with several different beers served in sensibly-sized
wine glasses and not once did we crave the grape. A lie-down, yes.

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February
26, 2009

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