Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A July 4th memory and my first living beer

I know I'm a little late in this, but I was too busy having fun this weekend to blog.
In the summer of 2004, I travelled to London - my first trip to Europe (does that count? I know it's not "the Continent"). While the highlights were definitely the Roman baths, Westminster Abbey, and the British Museum, the travelling pleasures of England are not the point of this post. The point of this post is an Independence Day memory and "real" beer.
It was on this trip to London that I tasted what they called "live" beer. Unlike most beer, it doesn't get its fizziness from carbon dioxide, but from living yeasts. Live beer hasn't been pasteurized and filtered, so the yeasts that created the beer in the first place continue to live on (for a while). I was entranced by the idea. I mean, if you love beer, then you love fermentation, and by association--at least in my mind--the tiny little things that created such a magical beverage in the first place. 
This was ages before I would hear of "real ale" and CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale). I just thought it was an amazing way to get back to the origins of what beer was supposed to be. Oh, and it was excellent, by the way. I don't have any tasting notes, but I do remember being pleased.
Disclosure: the photo accompanying this post was taken in the hotel bar, the Borough. Honestly, I'm pretty sure it isn't where I was served the live beer. (Amusingly, everyone who worked there was from somewhere else besides England - mainly Australia. Friendly people.) We did go on a pub walk, to more charming, aged bars, but I think I was afraid to take photos in such dignified places. And as I stretch my memory back, I do think it was another modern-looking bar where I had the live beer.
And what does this have to do with the holiday? We happened to be flying home on July 4th, and two things made that hideously long day memorable. First, on the plane with us was a group of school kids. Middle- or high-school. When they learned that we were a group of Americans on our way home, they were so pleased and excited to wish us a "Happy Independence Day"! It was touching; I'll never forget how friendly they were, and how pleasantly surprised we were at the fact. And then later, by the time we touched down in Orlando International Airport, it was dark, and we were treated to a view of fireworks on our drive home on the interstate, likely thanks to Walt Disney World. An appropriate homecoming.

It's never too late to give up your prejudices. --Henry David Thoreau, American author
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1 comment:

Kelly Warren said...

"live" beer. can't say i've ever heard of "live" beer. granted i'm not a beer connoisseur (and even though i'm an english i had to look up how to speel connoisseur). i'm more of a light beer kinda girl and i'm guessing live beers are heavier. very interesting! i'll have to share this information with my beer snob friends in tallahassee, although i probably won't be telling them anything they don't already know. hope you are well!