"A Beer in the Hand..." 14/07/2011
While catching up on my Tweets late on Tuesday night I noticed @Filrd (a fellow Twitterer) reporting on his thoughts while enjoying a bottle of Urthel Samaranth 12, and this reminded me that not only did I have a bottle stashed away, but also that I had vowed to leave it alone for the medium-term. (More on Urthel Samaranth here and here).
Like @Filrd I too was recommended this particular beer by the good folk @BeerRitzLeeds. Specifically, I had asked for a few recommendations from @GhostDrinker for beers that I shouldn't be missing out on, as well as a small selection of beers that would be just as happy being kept in a cupboard collecting dust for a few years. One of the beers he suggested would keep well, was the Urthel Samaranth.
Thankfully, he had also put a bottle of the Urthel HOP-iT in the selection for 'drinking now', a bottle which I enjoyed while writing this blog. This is not an attempt to make tasting notes, although if you are interested in this 9.5% blonde hoppy beer there are great reviews on ratebeer or beer advocate. I am wanting to debate the choice one makes as a beer drinker, to drink now or to save it for later in the knowledge, or just blind hope, that the beer will change or improve in one or more ways.
At first I simply wanted to write a quick blog around what I thought was a clever adaptation of a well known saying. Only that, once applied to beer it would now read; 'a beer in the hand is worth two in the cupboard'. But as I typed I realised that it was much more than just a quip, it was a choice facing many a beer aficionado each time the big-hand strikes beer o'clock.
Getting back to the Urthel Samaranth, @Filrd was honest enough to admit that he had "relented" his good intentions to age it a little and was drinking his bottle as the mood had dictated. In fact, he had opened it at midnight and was 'pairing' it with some chilli crackers, which in his honest opinion were maybe hiding some of its glory. Like me, @Filrd is a bit of a hoarder when it comes to beer. If you aren't into this, then you may struggle to understand why someone would want to spend good money on something they love and then squirrel it away? Well, there are probably several contributing factors in this lifestyle choice and I'm standing in the wrong corner to judge. But, I think it's fair to say that it's a hobby of sorts and the behaviour is most likely borne out of a passion for wanting to try many different beers and also look at their diversity when given a chance to mature. Believe me when I say the latter is a challenge!
I apologise for this post being Twitter orientated, but right now this is the best single way I can find to keep in touch with what's happening up-to-the-minute in the beer world. Oh, and I'm addicted to it. However, through Twitter I frequently read fellow beery types referring to @beercupboard and also to a [hashtag] #openit.
In my opinion, I think that @beercupboard and #openit illustrate two points of interest that appeal to beer lovers, [this may not be the intended meaning - only the owners of these ideas can decide that], i.e. drinking beer now and drinking beer later! Neither is the best way of course, and one might prescribe to both. In slight contrast, (but it could be argued that it helps beer-hoarders everywhere to 'come clean' and publicly air their beery vaults in much the same way that '#Open it!' does), @beercupboard http://www.beercupboard.com/ helps celebrate the notion of storing the noble beer whatever its status, along with the mission that anyone can have a beer cupboard and that they come in all shapes and sizes. It's a fun idea and one which has been supported by many beer lovers.
Back in 2010 Andy Mogg (blogger at Beer Reviews) and Mark Dredge (British Guild of Beer Writers New Media Writer of the Year 2009 and 2010 and blogger at Pencil and Spoon), proposed the idea of 'Open it!'. The idea of Open it! being to dig out those special beers at the back of your beer cupboard, or from a corner of your cellar, and to drink them dagnamit! This idea quickly gathered speed and, as I understand it, has continued in both an organised and ad hoc crusade to liberate long forgotten ales and keepsakes.
Having set out to explore whether a 'a beer in the hand is worth two in the cupboard', I can't claim to have unlocked any meaning behind the drinking and storing of beer. However, and based on my own shortcomings, I can assume that the concept of ageing beer be it under the kitchen sink or in a purpose built beer cellar, will torment even the hardened beery journeyman and the temptation will often simply prove too much to resist.
So why not go and add your beercupboard and share your haven-for-hops or your mansion-of-malts, and also, if you have the ammunition, join in with a future #openit, or why not just have your own impromptu session. After all you don't need an excuse to enjoy a beer.
David Bishop, 33 year old Bradfordian, born in East Yorkshire. Garage brewer and novice blogger with grand designs to own a micro-brewery. It's early days!