Early Doors

Posted by on Apr 8, 2015 in Editorial | 10 Comments


The Kernel Brewery, 9:30am on a Saturday.

With the Bermondsey Beer Mile laid out before me, and the – really quite amazing – Table Beer freshly poured. As fresh as you can get it, of course, having been made just yards away. It’s a term I’ve always hated, but for many people with a ‘bucket list’ involving modern British beer, this experience is right on it. And it was great – of course it was; I’ve been a fan of the Kernel ever since I wandered the length of Druid Street five years ago, trying to find which arch their brewery was actually located under (I got it right eventually). Their IPA C.S.C. still remains one of the best IPA’s I ever had, even with all the hop-forward beers having flowed under the (increasingly rickety) bridge since. But there was just something odd about being at the Kernel in that moment. And it wasn’t the brewery, or the company – and it certainly wasn’t the beer. It was the time.

Drinking beer at 9:30 in the morning just feels weird, to me. Whether it’s a pint of John Smith’s at Gate 4 before a dawn flight or the best low-abv beer in the UK, served where it was brewed; both settings feel equally unnatural, making it impossible to relax. I’m not really sure why that is, though. Every occasion I’ve caught an early plane there have been others sitting there with the beers in, starting their holidays (or their trip to Stansted) early. And I’m there with a muffin and a cup of tea, thinking I’ll leave it to at least lunchtime before having to thumb through the apps for AlcoDroid. It’s not that I’m judging people who enjoy beers that early – it’s just I don’t necessarily want to join them. So why might that be the case?

It’s not because of any beery bollocks about being able to fully appreciate the beer – I vaguely remember reading somewhere about professional tasters who are herded into red-lit rooms as soon as the cornflakes have been cleared away; their palates primed for the necessary slurping and quantifying. And besides, I’ve had Table Beer plenty of times previously – I know how good it is. It’s also nothing to do with how I was feeling – despite a Mikkeller tap takeover two nights before, and the monstrous 18% Big Worster barley wines, I was feeling pretty chipper (chipper enough to not flip the v’s at George Obsorne, who wandered past later on the lookout for a wine archway)*.

* True story; we followed him. Strange to see the second most powerful man in Britain (sorry Nick) shopping for plonk with a security detail at that time on a Saturday.

I don’t even see a problem with consuming alcohol that early in the morning – even if this is the main stigma of early drinking. Sharp intakes of breath when you tell people you’ve been on the beer before 10am is par for the course, but these beers are well under 4%abv, and drunk in small measures, so it’s not like we were pounding the IPA in the early AM (although they were available). On leaving the Kernel, we managed to have productive, full weekend days. In that respect, it didn’t matter that the corners of the eyes were still crusty. We beat the crowds, at least.

So I’m not really sure why it makes me uneasy, drinking beer that early in the morning. How about you – are you an early doors merchant? Or does the thought of getting the beers in at 9am (or earlier) feel as strange to you as it does to me?


  1. @MikeMcGWirral
    April 8, 2015

    In the 1999s my sister used to work as a nurse in London, near one of the big commercial produce markets. After a night shift she and her colleagues would roll into one of the pubs that had a special early licence and order booze to go with a full English breakfast πŸ™‚

    Not something I’d make a habit of, but it was fun when I joined them once πŸ™‚

  2. Richard Morrice
    April 8, 2015

    When I lived in France (and did no work) I used to go to the local PMU Tabac cafe for my breakfast. Good coffee, excellent croissants, a quick read of the paper and a nice brandy.
    No beer until lunchtime…
    Richard Morrice

  3. Peter McKerry
    April 8, 2015

    I’ve been known to start drinking at 10 on the day of a big football game, but I blame Sky and 12pm kick offs for that (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). I was lucky enough to do the Bermondsey Beer Mile with a fine ensemble of Craft Wankers last year, and it didn’t feel weird to be drinking beer so early, maybe as I was with several like-minded people, or maybe I was distracted by nerves, and it being the first time I had met many of them.

    I have no problem drinking early if there’s a reason to do so, it’s just that there aren’t that many occasions that call for it.

  4. Adrian Tierney-Jones
    April 8, 2015

    All in the right context. Been to Budvar at 9.30am and offered a glass of 10˚and that was it until lunchtime, the Brussels Beer Challenge starts judging around 9.20ish, but I always have a bucket, done the BBM and enjoyed a glass of Table at around 10ish, but I was sort of interviewing Evin.
    On the other hand is it the ghost of John Calvin hovering over you πŸ˜‰ β€” I have a theory about the UK that we are either gorging on food on drink or being all righteous because of our Roundheads and Cavaliers past (probably a load of old tosh).

  5. John M. Priddy
    April 8, 2015

    I like to feel like I’ve earned the pleasure by getting something done before nestling into a brew and a conversation. Although a number of beers I’ve had the pleasure to try have been best described as ‘breakfast beer”.

  6. Alex MacArthur
    April 9, 2015

    Mmm… Big Worster…

    I’m generally the same. With the exceptions of weekend music festivals or specifically beery events (e.g. BrewDog AGM or beer festival sessions starting in the morning) my rule is generally “No beer before lunch” for no reason than it just feels right to me personally.

    A related one for me is the tradition(?) of train beer. Apart from a couple of instances I’ve never drunk on trains because it’s just “not right” for me. It reminds me of guys on the last train from London with 4-packs of Foster’s, etc. and the thought process of “I’m going to be sitting in one place for a few hours. I know, I’ll drink!” is one that’s never occurred to me. I generally just stick my headphones in and/or read a book.

  7. Thom Revil
    April 9, 2015

    Drinking before midday? That’s why Christmas was invented.

  8. @MikeMcGWirral
    April 9, 2015

    I don’t tend to drink in the morning at all, and that applies to train journeys too, but I will have a lunch-time / afternoon few on a long train journey, perhaps as an “I’m on holiday” thing & perhaps to calm myself down from the inevitable stresses of UK pulic transport.

    The introduction of Red Willow’s “Tilting” beers on Virgin’s West Coast trains is a great thing.

  9. Richard
    April 9, 2015

    Until Mike and Alex’s comments, I was beginning to think I was in the minority!

    Thanks for the opinions. And Richard, brandy for petit dejeuner? Bon!

  10. Juha
    April 11, 2015

    I used to take a dawn flight quite often from Dublin Airport, and I saw a lot of people drinking their pints happily. Personally, I do prefer my beer in the evening and sometimes with lunch – depending on the dish, of course. For example, with a good curry beer is a must.

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