Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess
Thursday 10 August 2006
Thinking I was looking undernourished, my squeeze decided to treat me to an afternoon at the Real Ale show in Earls Court. Not a treat that I might have dreamt up for myself, admittedly, and perhaps he was just getting revenge for being dragged to the Isles of Scilly for the world's most expensive eco-friendly mini-break.
Although I can't stand the taste of beer I'm a great supporter of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) which was organising the exhibition. As the country becomes increasingly homogenised by thousands of Tescos and local producers are being squeezed out of existence, it's thanks to the lobbying of Camra that we still have such a diverse range of ales available. Real ale tends to be produced in local breweries, often using barley from a nearby farm. Unlike dead, pasteurised, preservative-laden keg beer, real ale is a live substance and rich in B vitamins, iron and antioxidants.
Starting in the 1960s, the big brewers virtually killed off the real ale sector by forcing "tied" pubs to sell their own beers. Camra began as a voice of the ordinary people, who refused to have their product choice removed by big corporations and it hasfought many David and Goliath-style battles, saving local pubs from developers and increasing the number of independent brewers. It's an uphill battle, though. Eight out of 10 pints drunk in the UK are brewed by four global brewers.
The miseries of globalisation seemed a long way off at the exhibition centre, which had been turned into a huge pub for the occasion. Real ale drinkers had emerged from sheds all over the UK and were now eagerly sampling beery delights. Beer is obviously a great boost to the spirits, if not the figure - judging by the scores of expansive fizzing stomachs wobbling cheerfully about. S is very keen on beer. When we first went out he was a die-hard Stella Artois man but due to my indoctrination is now a convert to real ale. Although I'm ignorant about beer I was hoping that one of the 500 real ales on display might hit the spot and replace my fondness for fizz.
S insists that true appreciation only comes from taking very large gulps, but I reason that if a small sip tastes like bat's piss how can a larger mouthful taste any better?
No one could say I didn't try.
"Darling you're spoiling me again," I choked as he forced a pint of Jobbling's Swinging Gibber down my throat as I held my nose.
A mouthful of Guinness wasn't much better. I thought I might get it down if I made a black velvet, but this was vetoed as being a ridiculous waste of Guinness. Although I haven't yet acquired a taste for beer, I've found a use for it. It makes a great hair rinse resulting in the most lustrous follicles you could hope for - if you don't mind smelling a bit.
www.camra.org.uk; 01727-867 201
From the blogs
A slight deviation from style this week and admittedly a bit weird, but at least I can finally say I...
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Justice, the bedrock of our society is for sale under the Government’s latest plan to sell legal aid...
Take inspiration from the green-fingered brigade who have been showing off their creativity at the R...
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.