That’s right, winter has come knocking again. It seems no time ago that I was eating outside at 8pm in shorts and t-shirt with a fresh, crisp lager. Four weeks ago in fact, on holiday in Madeira. Holidaying at this time of year is my own silly attempt to ignore the onset of autumn, and the cold, deathly handshake it brings.
I am not a fan of the cold – as my choice of language may suggest – but I am a massive fan of trying to enjoy myself so much that I fail to notice it. The good thing about the lead into the festive period’s is that we are looking for any excuse to celebrate, despite the dark, damp dreariness.
In an antidote to the lack of long, warm summer parties where we get together and drink booze, we have a number of clever measures. We first adopt the traditions of the German beer festival, get together and drink booze. We then don terrifying costumes, get together and drink booze. Now we have November 5th, and I have the perfect thing to accompany the fireworks, bonfires and tending to frightened pets. It’s booze!
So what can make these occasions feel a bit more special and warm? You may want to match your surroundings and reach for a smoked beer if you can find one amid the dense fug. Stand defiant against the wind blowing ash and hedgehog into your eyes with a Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen, a huge, smoky, savoury beer with some thick sweetness as balance.
But what to match the traditional dining options that Guy Fawkes offers us? It’s a wonderful time of year for matching your food with a great beer. Try Kernel’s new Export Porter at 5.6% with pulled pork, the new kid in the hearty, warming, winter block. It has a deceptive aroma which is quite floral and grassy, but the taste is charcoal, mesquite and caramelised loveliness with just enough fruity malt that it doesn’t become overwhelming.
The month may have passed, but you can still find Paulaner Oktoberfest, a wonderful thing that loves nothing more than being devoured along with sticky, roasted sausages. It is bready, sweet and rich, with enough bubbles to clean away its fatty friend, so you enjoy each bite as you did the first.
“Jacket potato!” I hear you cry. Yes, another fireworks favourite. You need to fill it with a good chilli, butter and a little sour cream and chives, then experience the magic as you swill away with Schneider Weisse Tap 7. You’ll feel the malt, cloves, vanilla and breadiness marry the flavours of the chilli, whisk them off, and live happily ever after. If you are savouring the experience, make it a Schneider Weisse Aventinus at 8.2%. Just don’t end up slumped effigy-like against a wall (that could end horribly).
The next occasion, within this period heavy with occasions, is my birthday. How could I celebrate? Get together and drink booze? What else?