Those of you who have been following 'A Swift One' over the years may recall I have visited this subject previously, but I make no apologies for visiting it once more . It is THAT time of year again. The time when the world seems to go mad, and the shops and pubs are full of people whose one intention seems to be to get in my way.
My gripe is not with Christmas per se, although I would prefer it to be staggered throughout the year, so maybe different parts of the country celebrate it in different months and I could move around and miss it. My gripe is with the brewing industry. Not all of it, but just those brewers who mislead me into drinking beers I do not like, and had I been aware, would have avoided.
Let me explain. I do not like my beer messed about with as a rule, and especially not so with spices. Many brewers seem to think this it is a tradition to make beers with such things at this time of year. Lets face it, if I wanted a Xmas pudding (which incidentally I don't) I would buy the real thing. I do not want to order a beer and suddenly find it has all the ingredients of a pudding in my glass.
Before you start and say it is my own fault for being a 'ticker' and 'needing' to score the beer anyway, let put you right. I am happy to be given the choice so if I see a beer called 'Noel' or 'Christmas Cracker' I roughly know what to expect and it is up to my feeling at the time whether to subject myself to it or not. What I object to are those breweries who disguise their Christmas beer under names that give no clue as to what is to come.
I had a trip around Leeds yesterday, and came across a couple of beers that perfectly fit that description. 'ECB' - what is that ? Ah English Christmas Beer, my fault for not reading the small print maybe. However, 'Nippy Nights' - no clue there. But a spicy concoction. Strangely 'Miseltoe Myth' which I expected to be of this ilk, was light and hoppyish. Some were a little easier to work out admittedly using words like Christmas, Santa, elves etc. etc so I knew to avoid them. But I got to the point of treating every beer I had never previously encountered with suspicion. Thankfully I did not get my fingers bitten again but I will be very pleased when January comes and we can see the back of the Christmas pudding mix.
So please brewers if you are going to make a Christmas beer with spices, and I have no objection if you do, can you call if something I can associate with spices, so I can avoid it if I want and don't inadvertently end up with a beer the taste of which lingers for hours.