The Gentleman Drinker

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Illustration by Florence Shaw Words by Shaun Cooney

At the age of around 10 you get your first taste of beer. Its normally passed to you by your dad and his friends in a beer garden and a tasting of which is promptly followed by a roar of laughter as you spit and choke on this yellow, watery drink. At around 14, when you want to look like a man you start to drink beer at house parties, with lemonade at family dinners or in the park. Once again you’re forcing down bottle after bottle of Budweiser, because its American and America is cool.

Its around 18 that you start to actually “like the taste of beer”. When you’re legally allowed to sit in the pub, with your friends and order an ice cold pint. It must be the environment of the pub that makes it feel so refreshing. It’s the feeling that no matter what you have been doing that day, you earned this pint.

Now around the age of 25 you have to stop drinking beer as you knew it when you were younger and start drinking real ales and cask ales. The kind of beer your granddad drank. This flat, hoppy, room temperature beer takes even longer to learn to like that a bottle of Becks ever did. But once enjoyed the whole world of beers comes alive before your eyes. There’s nothing more satisfying that walking into a craft beer pub and being spoilt for choice and if you can’t choose why not get 3rds of all your favourites. Now, time for a pint.

For great specialist ales visit The Stormbird in Camberwell, London. Illustration above, a commissioned beer mat for the Camberwell Arts Festival 2013 by Florence Shaw.

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