A man was on his way to his brother’s wedding. The wedding was in north Wales. This meant a journey of several hundred miles by car and, being the adventurous and romantic sort, the man opts to take the slower but more picturesque route through the beautiful English/Welsh borders countryside, arriving with a bounce in his step and a happy heart.
A man was on his way to his brother’s wedding. The wedding was in north Wales. This meant a journey of several hundred miles by car and, being part way through a challenge to drink a specific list of 50 beers in a year, the man opts to take the slower but convenient-for-stopping-at-a-shop-that-stocks-a-beer-he-is-missing route through the beautiful English/Welsh borders countryside, arriving with a bottle in his luggage and a happy heart.
Deciding which is the true option I will leave up to you.
But on an entirely unrelated topic, here is a picture of Ludlow Food Centre in Shropshire, which happens to stock bottles of Monty’s Sunshine, one of the beers from the Year in Beer list.
As mentioned in previous posts, I have had to start being a little more creative in my attempts to track down the 50 beers that make up the Independent’s 2012 list of top beers. As well as a hypothetical visit to Ludlow Food Centre, I have also had the good fortune recently to spend a night in Basingstoke.
“The good fortune?” you say, and ordinarily your skepticism would be understandable. But when you realise that the Triple fff brewery is based nearby then a night in Basingstoke opens up the possibility of tracking down a pint of their Alton’s Pride. Taking to Twitter, I contacted Triple fff, who were able to suggest a list of likely pubs in Basingstoke. And this led to a pleasant drink in the beer garden of The Bounty Inn, under the Hampshire sunshine.
In my previous Year in Beer post I expressed my gratitude to Cairngorm brewery for posting a bottle of Black Gold to me, allowing me to tick that one off of the list. That left me with only a couple of beers to track down.
A fellow blogger came to my aid in finding a bottle of Otley O-Garden. Having realised my plight (you will have seen his comments on previous Year in Beer posts) Paul from Blood, Stout and Tears turned detective for me and worked out that O-Garden is now called O9. He then bought me a bottle and put it in the post, with a South West beer making the return journey in a bloggers’ bottle swap. To me, this was a great example of what the internet can achieve. Yes, it was just a beer. But someone took the time to help another blogger find something they were looking for and to help them fulfill a challenge they had set themselves. Cheers Paul!
With my celebratory 50th beer already bought and filed away, there was a real risk that beer number 49 (Ramsgate Brewery Gadds’ Black Pearl) would turn out to be my bogey beer: the one beer from the list that I couldn’t get my hands on. I had tried all of my usual online beer sites without success and, however hard I tried, I could not engineer a trip to Kent to go and find it myself. Mrs Running Buffet is supportive, but there are limits.
In desperation I took to Twitter again, as well as emailing the brewery, to ask for help. Lois Gadd emailed me back with a few options and also pointed me in the direction of eebria.com, a website that was new to me. The great folk of Twitter also rallied to the call, including a retweet from Melissa Cole (beer writer, sommeALEier and contributor to the Independent’s top 50 list) that sent my plea for help to all of her 12,908 followers; a significantly wider audience than would have seen my original tweet. Thanks Melissa!
Several people then got in touch to help me find my missing beer and many of these also pointed me toward eebria.com, from where I have now managed to order a bottle of Black Pearl. As I type I imagine it steeling itself for the journey west, ready to commit itself to helping me complete the Year in Beer challenge.
My thoughts on both O9 and Black Pearl will feature in August’s Year in Beer post, which will be posted up as soon as possible, depending on the vagaries of the British postal system and when the Black Pearl actually arrives.
I’ll say it again, yes, it is only beer. At the end of the day it’s not the most important thing in the world. But, having set myself the challenge, I was really keen to complete it and that meant finding all 50 of the beers. So thank you to everyone who has helped towards the challenge.
And something that can turn a trip to Basingstoke into an exciting opportunity, that can’t be underestimated now can it?