Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday UK Blog - A date with John Barleycorn

I was due to have an author on my show this last week whose co-written a book about partying, drinking games, and hangover cures after attending 15 Colleges in the US and not getting one academic success, except for being known for running some of the best ever college parties. Unfortunately the author was a "no show" for the radio program, so I never got a chance to exchange UK rugby drinking games with US college games.

One item I did find out though was that my guests favorite tipple was Bud Light.

How can a person who has classed themselves as a series beer drinker, have Bud Light as a favorite beer. I have known rugby clubs in England, when being asked for a Bud or Miller Light point the patron in the direction of the bathroom saying "the water tap is in there". It is THAT WEAK.

This started me thinking about beers and the strength of beers in the US compared to England. A thought process that was enhanced when an article this week that BrewDog of Fraserburgh, a Scottish brewery, launched "Tactical Nuclear Penguin" what it described as the world's strongest beer - with a 32% alcohol content.

A warning on the label states: "This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. In exactly the same manner that you would enjoy a fine whiskey, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost."

Before you start working out the strength of the beer, one has to remember the way alcohol "percentage proof" measurements in the US differ to the UK.

In the US the percentage shown is basically half the strength, so something that reads 70% proof in the USA is 35% alcohol. In the UK 70% proof is basically (and these are not exact figures) double that. This being the case a 32% beer in England would almost equal a shot of Jack Daniels in the USA.

One of the items Americans always bring up when discussing beer, is that England has "warm beer", this is really not the case. Any "good" pub that sells beer out the barrel which is hand pumped, rather and gassy carbon dioxide forced bubble baths, will keep there beer in a "cellar", thus it is at "cellar temperature".

After all the "almost frozen" beers that Americans seem to like, are so cold, one can never taste the true flavor, as at the first sip, your taste buds are frozen. Of course this loving of very cold drinks can be seen when Americans serve you a spirit or "shot", as there is normally as much ice in the glass as caused the Titanic to sink.

This is not to say that there are not such beers in England, these cold fizzy drafts are normally termed under the term "Lagar", with the likes of Bud, Fosters, Carling Black Label and Stella being available in most pubs in England.

While doing a little research into beers and the strengths I cam across a wonderful site called
Drunktionary, a wonderful place to find out all sorts of terms to do with drinking.

So while I go looking for a bottle of Tactical Nuclear Penguin, it just leaves me to say one thing.


Barry Eva (Storyheart)

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