At different times in my life I’ve drank beer for different reasons.  As a teenager of non drinking age it was something you did to help fill an evening when you could not get served at your local.  When you turned 18 (or looked old enough to be served in a pub) the Friday and Saturday nights out with friends became a weekly ritual and if you didn’t have a hangover the following morning it was a disappointment.  My first watering hole was the Bricklayers Arms in Leicester, where I originate from and the drink of choice was Everards Tiger, however at my local it was Banks’s Mild.  The first I am happy to drink still today, the second I wonder what I saw in it.

Once you went to university it defined the pattern of your social week.  When I studied at Coventry, Monday was £1 a pint of Tetley at the Rock Night at the Colin Campbell, Wednesday night was Rock Night at Mr Gees, Thursday was the pub quiz at the Admiral Coddrington (followed by Pork, Stuffing & Apple Sauce Roll with Roast Potatoes from the nearby takeaway, a combination which I have yet to better at the end of the night).  Alcohol was the lubricant to a lot of your social interactions from the lunchtime pint to university societies to the impromptu parties at peoples houses.  Drinking was for drinking’s sake a lot of the time, for example on the £1 a pint Tetleys at the Campbell, we had the 10 pint challenge, to get 10 tankards each on the table, if one was collected you had to “replace” it.  I don’t deny it was fun, but probably contributed to my getting a desmond (2:2, named after Desmond Tutu), otherwise known as a good “drinking” degree.

Once you joined the world of work, drinking was slowly tempered as the realities of a 40 hour week kicked in, so the weekend sessions became more important again as a regular routine limited the potential for an after work session.  It was at this time when quantity took a step back and quality became more important.  I admit up to the age of 22-23 I drank crap beer (from my current frame of mind), mainstream bitters, milds and lager, whatever was on a cheap deal at the venue of choice.

Once I moved to Halifax, I started to drink what I would define a good solid session ales.  The likes of Copper Dragon, Black Sheep, Theakstons and Thwaites.  I do admit on my visits to the Coliseum, Zoo Rock Club and Tramshed to drinking whatever was cheap, the chance of being served a half decent draught ale being up there with flying pigs giving me a lift to work.  Over time as commitments built up, drinking beer became a method of relaxation rather than the be all of a night out, 2-3 pints became enough to satisfy your thirst.  Once the volume drops what you drink becomes important, you are sober enough to actually appreciate decent beer and be put off by poor beer, whereas if you are necking pint after pint, its hardly touching the taste buds.

This period of my life lasted about 7 years until I nearly reached my 30’s.  It was probably more of than coincidence that my first daughter arrived around this time and suddenly we were at the mercy of babysitters, so unlimited sessions were out even without the children, as at least one of us had to be somewhat competent on our return.  Both my children have been “pub-trained” from an early age, but there is a limit to the time before they have the potential to annoy other patrons unless there is provision for them, I’ve found this to be 3 pints, 4 if lucky generally if not driving.  My focus turned to trying as many different beers as possible, but I was still not going out looking for special beers, but trying a lot of the breweries standard output.

It was not until about 5 years ago when I started to search out certain beers on purpose, going for the more extreme beers from a taste (and sometimes strength) point of view.  For a while I became a ticker, trying to clear as many beers off my list as possible, for a long time I was a hophead, only really interested in the strong hop flavours, other times I was exclusively drinking stouts.  I swung from one extreme to the other.  But what was consistent is that I chased quality and something that bit different.

I’ve now reached a stage where I drink what’s good, and it doesn’t matter if its stout, pale ale, IPA or a continental beer, quality and taste is king, which is probably the best philosophy to adopt.