Beers for a Sunny Day
Brews for when it's mighty fine outside
Remember when the sun used to shine down, incessantly? When summer holidays reached off, never-ending, into the distance? Months of running about on bleached lawns, sherbet fountain tucked into the back pocket of your short shorts? Those long sun-drenched days seemed to just go on for ever (unless you went for the dreaded drive to the seaside, of course - in which case it was tuna sandwiches in the car, rain streaming down the windows). As kids back then, we were like reptiles – slow and sluggish in the morning, then turbo-charged once the rays of the sun warmed through our Thundercats t-shirts.
Now, of course, things are different. The only thing warming through your Thundercats t-shirt – which sure cost a lot more than they used to – is commuter-sweat, or workout-sweat, or deadline-sweat. Sherbet fountains are no longer the length of your arm, and to add insult to injury, now come in homogenous plastic tubes. Summer holidays are brief, tormented affairs, prefaced by frantic scouring of Trip Advisor alternatives, postscripted by warnings posted to others; "we were disappointed to be sharing a communal bathroom with a power station decontamination team, and Brian's morning bacon roll was frightfully streaky".
But, cling to this, weary modern-day strugglers. Now, we have beer to accompany our lives; yesteryear's play days are now beer garden days. Yet, like the Inuit and their snow classification, we have so many different kinds of 'sun'. Fortunately, there's a beer for each of them…
It's a very British pandemonium; a few days of searing, unbroken sunshine creates utter havoc. Weather that would have Caribbean islanders looking out of their windows and reaching for a thicker scarf causes Northern Europeans to lose most of their faculties. Lunches become longer. People sprawl in parks they never knew existed. Drinking becomes al fresco; cans, growlers, bottle openers, cool boxes - all become worth their weight in gold. This unlikely moment of warmth might not reappear for months, after all. Use it or lose it!
Companion style – Pale Ale
BrewDog Dead Pony Club (3.8%) Citrus from start…to finish…to the start of the next one
To Øl Sofa King (4.7%) Mandarin and grapefruit? Totally tropical...
This phenomenon is something anyone who has visited Fraserburgh will be highly familiar with; it looks beautifully sunny, like a summer's afternoon in the lavender fields of Provence. Yet as soon as you step outside, you realise it's actually cold enough to strip the enamel from your teeth. It's like that scene where the helicopter freezes solid in The Day After Tomorrow (only with fish and chips). It might be sunny, but the wind obliterates all sense of warmth. That's why seagulls make that noise as they wheel about overhead. They are in pain.
Companion style – Imperial Stout
BrewDog Cocoa Psycho (10%) In a word; fortifying
Great Divide Yeti (9.5%) Cold weather survival? What would sasquatch do?
The British default; extremely faint, whimsical, washed-out 'sunshine' that lets you stare directly at a ball of fire larger than anything you will ever know, without fear of losing your retinas. It's almost pathetic, watching this kind of sun apologetically struggle to break though a few high-level clouds. Leave a pat of butter on the street, and it would still take your weight a week later. You almost feel sorry for the sun, trying its best. Heck, the least you can do is break out the flip-flops and show it some moral support.
Companion style – Amber Ale
BrewDog 5AM Saint (5.0%) Red fruits and caramel, lift the mood if not the cloudbase
Oskar Blues G'Knight (8.7%) Aluminium-clad and with perfect citrus/resin crossover
"Hi Stacy, yeah it's me. So, are you still up for that barbecue later? I know it's windy, and lashing down. But the sun's still up there somewhere, eh? Like when you fly through the clouds, and there it is. Why don't we just go for it anyway? Yeah, I heard that on the news too – but barbecue counts as being 'absolutely necessary'. Besides, what am I going to do with twenty-five sausages? Hey, look! Is it brightening up? No…what thunder?"
Companion style – Whatever you can get away with
BrewDog Black Jacques (11.1%) Dark clouds, darker beer. Oaked anise and spiced chocolate
Mikkeller Mielcke & Hurtigkarl d'Yquem (8.7%) Dark clouds, unpronounceable beer. Peaches and elder blossom
Summer – in all its many and varied forms – is here. There's no better way to spend it than with a few close friends and a few closer beers. Whether the first rays creep from behind the greyest of skies, or a day of wall-to-wall blue – what do you reach for when it's sunny? And do you mix it up, depending on the weather? After all, the sun gives life to barley and hops, it deserves an appreciative toast, once in a while…