After some serious research, Jonathan Ray realises beer can be a sophisticated drink. Cheers!
You’ve been sailing all day and you’re hot and exhausted. Your thoughts turn to a cool shower followed by dinner on deck. But what you crave first is a beer — a fine, ice-cold beer with beads of condensation on the glass and a light froth on the top - that's more refreshing than a liquid gold whisky and less indulgent than the new chic English sparkling wines. It’s your very own Ice Cold in Alex moment.
Asahi Super Dry (5 per cent ABV) would be my first choice. Crisp, clean, light and wonderfully refreshing, it is Japan’s best-selling beer and a huge hit in the UK, too, where it’s brewed under licence by Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer, founded in 1698. Asahi took years developing the lager’s unique karakuchi – or dry – style and I can’t think of a finer thirst-quencher. It has a character and a refreshing bite at the back of the throat that’s so sadly lacking in common or garden Stella, Carlsberg or Heineken. (shepherdneame.co.uk)
Another contender would be Curious Brew (4.7 per cent ABV), a premium lager fermented with Champagne yeast and Saaz, Cascade and Nelson Sauvin hops for a long, satisfying dry finish. It’s produced in Kent by Chapel Down, the UK’s leading winemaker. (chapeldown.com)
If you’ve a big night planned and don’t want to overdo the alcohol, then try Adnams Sole Star (just 2.7 per cent ABV), which is bursting with vibrant lemon/lime-edged hops. (adnams.co.uk)
But if you really want to cut a dash – and maybe even have a beer with your meal – then look no further than the remarkable Deus (11.5 per cent ABV). Made in Belgium but – like Curious Brew – treated like Champagne with Champagne yeast and a secondary fermentation in bottle, it’s presented in a 75cl Champagne bottle complete with cork stopper and is sold for a Champagne price. Serve it well chilled in elegant flutes as an aperitif and it suddenly doesn’t seem so pricey nor so alcoholic. Smooth, creamy and slightly bitter, it makes an extremely stylish and satisfying start to a meal. (beermerchants.com)
If beer is your thing, why not own your own pub? The thatched 14th century Compasses Inn in Lower Chicksgrove, Wiltshire, England is on the market for £595,000. It boasts a bar, restaurant, four guest rooms and a detached three-bedroom cottage. christies.com
For the same price, you could buy…
- 198 bottles of the Last Drop, the 50-year-old “double matured” blended Scotch from the Last Drop Distillers. Blended from 50 whiskies, it was bottled in 2015. Only 898 bottles were made. lastdropdistillers.com
- 19 bottles of 2005 Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, La Romanée-Conti Monopole. One bottle recently sold at Christie’s Hong Kong for HK$343,000, proving that Asia still loves super-premium wines. romanee-conti.com
- 6 barrels of fine Penfolds wine, a bespoke blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, aged for 18 months. The price includes a trip to Adelaide to inspect the wine and dinner at the Magill Estate restaurant. penfolds.com