Friday, March 06, 2009

The Session: Love Lager


When the Beer Nut suggested writing about Lager (or at least pale beer) for this month’s session, my heart sank. Surely I could find nothing to say; given the miniscule proportion of ‘Lager’ I actually drink.
Then I had a think about it. I do drink lager! On holiday!


One of my loves is The Mediterranean. Some of my fondest memories stem from long, long nights in Greece, Spain, and Turkey (when I was younger), and indeed the cuisine informs most things that I cook from April to October. And despite the Med being full of awesome, cheap and mostly bespoke wine, flowing like nectar from numerous visited wineries, there’s something to be said for a lager, chilled the hell out of, and sipped at a beach bar with the sand between your toes.


Glistening bottles of Mythos and Marathon in Greece, getting greasy from the rapidly expanding pile of prawn shells piling up at the side of my plate. Efes Pilsner, Amstel and Heineken in Turkey, washing down the beauty that is the proper Turkish kebab. And huge steins of Kamenitza and Zagorka in Bulgaria, their flinty sharpness cutting through all that heavy, Eastern European food. Hell, the Greek island of Samos had reasonably kept Warsteiner in most bars (seemingly a concession to the amount of Germans that swarm the place in the summer), and that beer in particular underwrote most of my memories of that holiday. And don’t get me started on Spain and Cruzcampo. I could die in a vat of that stuff.


Of course, at night I generally flit back over to wine, but for me, the scorching heat of a typical summer’s lunchtime on holiday does, as much as I wouldn’t want to admit it, bring me memories of a cold, frosty one. So, despite my Beer Nerdism, Lager has its place in my palate after all. Imagine if I finally got around to visiting Czechoslovakia, or Germany!

I recently tasted Taddington Moravka on draught and it was possibly one of the best ‘lagers’ I’ve ever tasted. It certainly got me thinking - am I missing anything else in this area of beer I know the least about? Looks like I’ll be a little more interested in the world of (the palest) pale from now on. It doesn't have to be cheap fizz, and if it does - well, as long as you're in the right place, it can be very pleasant indeed.


The photo at the top is of sunset at an awesome fish joint in Sozopol, Bulgaria. The terrace was on the side of a sheer clifface, the crystal clear Black Sea below. We drank steins of Zagorka lager, and accompanied this with plate upon plate of fried whitebait and mussels and mozzarella topped tomato salad. The plan was to start there and then move on for the evening, but we didn't. We just carried on there. Sometimes there's no reason to move.

5 comments:

Katie said...

Our friends recently returned from Prague and bought us a whole case of half litre bottles of Star. Its lovely from the bottle, really refreshing.

Ten Inch Wheeler said...

Ah, holiday lager. A fine thing indeed. A few years back I walked 12 miles of a very rough bit of the Great Wall Of China. It was also the hottest day I've ever experienced. I doubt I've ever enjoyed a beer more than I did when I staggered into a roadside cafe, and was handed a Tsingtao from an ancient fridge. I'm sure jets of steam came out of my ears as I drank it.

Mark said...

Ice cold lager on the beach just tastes so good!! I adore Mythos with an unrivaled and unhealthy passion. Warning: do not try it antwhere outside of Greece, it sucks!

I've been thinking about holiday drinking while reading the session posts and I just can't put my finger on why they taste so great? I don't know what it is and it makes me curious!

And I'd love to go to Czechoslovakia too, if only I could find a time machine... ;)

Joos de Littlemore said...

You've made an old man happy! Given that lager is just another method of brewing, I never could believe that ALL lager was cr4p....but never liked to express that view in company! The first ever Tuborg I drank (in Denmark) was so good...but had as much relationship to Carling Black Label as Sir Fred Goodwin has to a Banker. And I confess to liking Grolsch - well, in Holland, anyway. And Jenlain...does that qualify as Lager?

Leigh said...

cheers guys, i think you've all hit the nail on the head - good drink (or food) experiences can often be about the setting and circumstance rather than the supposed quality of the product itself. Memories...ah! and joos - yes, i think it does. . . although it's certainly not 'classic' lager, is it?