Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Merry Christmas to One and Ale

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Merry Christmas to One and Ale

Article excerpt


AT THIS time of year I often hear people saying they don't feel Christmassy ... that they're not getting that buzz of festive anticipation. But I think they're looking in the wrong place.

As a grown-up, we're comparing Christmas to how it used to be as a child, but how can it ever be? We're different people with different priorities. Back then it was all about presents, but you simply don't get as excited about them when you're older.

When I was four I got a toy vacuum cleaner for Christmas and, utterly soused in happiness, insisted on vacuuming the entire house before I'd open any more presents (if it was an attempt to condition me into good habits early on, it failed miserably). As an embittered, cynical hack, how can I top that level of trembling, innocent joy? No. Instead, you'll find Christmas is just as wonderful ... if you look in the right place.

The importance of Christmas as an adult is found in those with whom we spend it, and in memories, and in renewing dimming relationships.

What I mean is, Christmas is a season to spend time with the beers that mean the most to us, getting together with our nearest and dearest brews.

Perhaps there are pints we haven't bought in the pub as often as we should, off licences which we promised we'd visit regularly but forgot to, or online beer stores with whom we intended to keep in touch but lost correspondence.

Pop into Coppers 8til8 in north Gosforth, Rehills in Jesmond, Fenwick in town; they'll be delighted to see you and have lots of treats.

For me, I'll be looking forward to seeing Vitesse Noir from Cumbria's Hardknott Brewery again, a treacle-thick Imperial stout which, despite being one of my favourite beers, I have neglected badly.

I reacquainted myself with Tyne Bank's amazing cherry stout this past week, and will also try to spend time with Anarchy Brewery's Sublime Chaos breakfast stout, a fantastic drink with an aroma of dark chocolate that you'll notice from ten paces; and Cullercoats Brewery's Jack the Devil, the richest local session beer and my favourite when talking with friends in the pub. …

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