A break is as good as a rest, as they say. I’ve had the best part of a month off from blogging, writing, Tweeting and even (to a certain extent) thinking about beer, in any major form. Well, that’s not strictly true, of course – even in the depths of sleep the brain flicks affectionately to the wonders of a softly foaming pint (or at least, my subconscious seems to). There was also the fantastic elderflower, gorse and toasted coconut wedding beer; where around 25 drinkers knocked off 60x500ml bottles and the best part of 2/3rds of a 20 litre pin in a few hours (following a beer-tasting in the afternoon). Once that had passed, it was full-on, beer relaxation mode. But the best part of that? The thing I enjoyed the most?
It’s just something I find myself revelling in, whenever I’m somewhere hot; the local lager. Yes, I typically spend my weekly alcohol units on modern, invigorating, well-thought-out beer (and on occasion, a few more than my weekly ‘recommendation’). I’m not likely to knock the cap off a stubby of Fosters over here anytime soon – unless there was absolutely no alternative, of course. So, why do I self-eulogise about the likes of Tropical, Dreher, or Tui when abroad? If I wouldn’t usually touch a generic lager over here, why do they suddenly become so appealing when I’ve unpacked the reversible Union Jack/Saltire beach towel and Factor 60? Well, I think it’s down to a few reasons.
Firstly, I used to drink lager all the time. Like most people, back in the day I didn’t know – or more importantly didn’t want to know – of an alternative to my sole drink of choice (Carling). Now, quite obviously, I do. So when I turn up in a place with limited beery options, maybe I find it easier to switch back into that mode; a great deal of great beer has gone under the bridge since, but those memories are still there. It could be those vestigial lager memories start pulsing when I jauntily flounce into a pavement café and enquire “WHAT pivo YOU HAVE PLEASE?”
Secondly, it’s not the commonly-found Carling equivalents that I resort to in these resorts. For instance, although there was plenty of Heineken on offer in Croatia, I stuck solely to Karlovaćko and Osujško – even fully aware of the MASSIVE hypocrisy of that statement, knowing the former of those ‘local’ lagers is owned by the Dutch concern. So why did I buy them? Well, even when the decision is made from within the deeper-most recesses of the pickled cortex, the modern, inescapable tenet of provenance fights its way to the surface at the same time. ‘Why would I order a Carlsberg when they have bottles of Zoinkelpils?’
Maybe it’s more to do with a reset, then, as well. A change of pace. Without wishing to sound like some kind of craft beer snob – although I fear I am about to – not having to constantly think about what beers are on, what to have next, what sized serve to order, etc etc is as hugely refreshing as these lagers purport to be. I’m on holiday, for f*ck’s sake. Unless my hotel has an IPA minibar and serves beer flights at breakfast, maybe I can just embrace the lack of desire to try and source decent beer whilst vacationing? Not having to think about beer for once – other than remembering how to ask for it – is a great reset. Maybe that’s it, then; it’s just about chilling out with the chilled Eurolagers.
Full disclosure: I also had one bottle of Duvel on holiday. It was sublime.
Also, there are alternatives to lager in Croatia, if you look hard enough.