|A lost weekend|
The sold out test match in Huddersfield left me high and dry last weekend.
My plans of a town centre session were ruined by neglecting to buy a ticket for the England vs New Zealand game. So, as not many of my kind of pubs have plasma screens I decided to watch it on the telly at home.
But I was determined not to miss out on a beer-related encounter with the Kiwis so it was time to see what was left of my summer stash of cans in the garage.
Now, as a rule we don't tend to do bottle/canned beer reviews on here as we like to encourage people to drink in pubs.
But I'm going to break with tradition, just for once, as I think the beer choice, particularly the range of canned beer, in supermarkets and farm shops has improved since I last looked.
The selection above came from Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Cannon Hall Farm Shop. It's just a snapshot of what's available.
My first, from Backyard Brewery, was The Bee 17. Apparently it's from Falkenberg in Sweden. It's distributed by Carlsberg who bought out the old Falcon Brewery. This beer is brewed in the back yard of that brewery, hence the name.
I'm quite partial to pilsners but don't see them as often as I'd like. If you'll excuse the pun, this beer did as exactly as it said in the tin. It's a 'hop struck pilsner' made with Saaz and Williamette. A nice drink, weighing in at 4.7% and one which I would buy again. I think it came from Sainsbury's.
Next, I went for Northern Monk's Eternal , a session IPA at 4.1%. It is one of the Holbeck based brewery's core beers. This one I found at Cannon Hall Farm Shop, which, incidentally, seems to have expanded its beer range and its size since my last visit. It's made with Simcoe and Centennial, very drinkable and is on my shopping list!
As we were playing New Zealand it made sense to keep with the theme and go for Antipodean IPA. But this was made much nearer to home by Harbour Brewing in North Cornwall. It's a cliché but this is one of my favourites. It's widely available in Morrisons and in my garage. It was a fair bit stronger than my previous beers at 5.5%, but people looking for a less heady brew can always plump for Harbour's Session IPA at 4.3%.
Perhaps I should have been more patriotic and opted for English hops as it was around this point that Kiwi scrum half Shaun Johnson slotted over what proved to be the decisive drop goal and made in 17-16.
It was tempting to drown my sorrows but as a long-standing GB and England RL fan I've been here before.
So it was few days later that I returned to home territory with Northern Monk's Northern Star. It's a mocha porter, which gives you just the right amount of coffee hit. But its 5.9% volume means it's more of an end of session beer for me.
There are at least two more test matches to go for England, against Scotland and Australia, so the plan is to visit some of the excellent independent beer retailers in striking distance of me (Beer Shack at Scissett, Bier Huis of Ossett and Arcade Beers in Huddersfield) and to stock up on some more 4 Nations themed beers.
It may seem unpatriotic of me, but as a hop head, I am particularly looking forward to the Australia vs New Zealand game. And I won't be too crestfallen if they meet again in the final at Anfield . But after its all over I'm back off down the pub for a cask and keg odyssey!