I've wanted to do something like this for a long time.
As Tom Fozard will tell you, I always try to get other beer geeks into the beer blogging party.
It brings me great pleasure then, to bring you a new face to the beer writing scene: Paul Tuffnell
Many of you will know Paul as @Tuff86 from Twitter, and will have no doubt seen the drunker banter that passes back and forth from me and him about great beers very late at night ;) It was on one of those beery conversations where I asked Paul if he was interested in beer blogging, and It seemed he was really interested! He will be starting up his own beer blog sometime soon, but until then here's the first (of many) Tuff's Tales!
He states at the end he has a passion to understand everything about great beer. I'd say he's pretty much there already. I really enjoyed this story, it reminded me of my introduction into the good beer scene, and hopefully it will for you too! So... It's over to you Paul:
From Beer Drinker To Beer Geek
For years, well since legal drinking age of course I have always enjoyed a 'good beer'. I was never a big drinker of Fosters & the likes so always went for whatever I thought was a much better alternative. I would always match beer to food I was eating, for example if I made an Italian meal the beer of choice was Peroni or Birra Morette or if I was having a curry it was Cobra or Kingfisher, you get the idea. If I was to walk into a pub and ask for a pint, it was generally Guinness, a real man's beer I used to think to myself. To me at the time, these were all great beers & at the right time and place they still are. Every time I go for a curry I still knock back a couple of Cobras.
Along the way I would try numerous others, Black Sheep, Timothy Taylor's & ... to name a few. I even went through a period of drinking nothing but Newcastle Brown Ale! But nothing ever crossed my mind that there were so many great beers out there until a trip to Dublin in January 2009 when me and my girlfriend went to a restaurant (Elephant & Castle, if you ever go make sure you have the chicken wings, they're amazing!). As always she ordered wine & I ordered beer...
The beer I ordered changed the way I looked at this extremely versatile substance forever. The beer in question was Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. I must be totally honest and say that I bought this purely because it was American & it sounded 'interesting'. This was something completely new to me, I had never tasted a beer quite like it & as a complete novice I was sure it had some extra ingredient to it! "This isn't just beer surely?" That extra ingredient I was trying to work out was obviously just the massive amount of hops that were lacking from so many beers I'd drank previously. I sat there throughout the whole meal trying to work out the different flavours I was getting from this hoppy nectar, the bottle certainly didn't last long as I sipped away. I then ordered a 2nd & a 3rd; this was damn good stuff after all!
From that day I began to branch out into the big wide world of beer. I mainly explored what major supermarkets had to offer as I wasn't aware of any local beer shops near to me or my girlfriend (who is in Leeds). I picked up a few more US craft beers on a trip to Manchester which gave me more incentive to try & hunt some places down where I could regularly purchase such delights. This is when I got myself onto Twitter & came across Beer Ritz....
Ah Beer Ritz, those two words really are like music to my ears these days. My first visit was in December last year when I was simply overwhelmed with the amount of beers they stocked from all over the world. Most of them I hadn't even seen before, I really was like a kid in a sweet shop. I went through every Sierra Nevada beer that was stocked, after all their Pale Ale was the beer that really got me started on this journey in the first place. Over the following months I tried beers from other countries with the range in style & taste varying massively. My taste buds had never had it so good before!
However buying great beer is all good and well but the most rewarding thing to have come out of this 'journey' are the people I have met along the way & shared countless beer related stories with. For starters there's the staff of Beer Ritz, Will (@GhostDrinker) & Tom (@cheeeseboiger) (Tom now of Rooster's Brewery fame) & not forgetting the brains behind the whole operation; Zak Avery (@zakavery), I'm sure you've heard of him ;-) These beer aficionados were always and still are so helpful when it came to giving me information about all the beers on offer along with some recommendations every time I paid a visit. I used to look forward to going along for the great beer related chats as much as buying the products themselves.
Not only that but Tom who is a keen home brewer has kindly given me several of is creations which have all been excellent!
I know there are a lot of other home brewers out there like Rob (@BGRTRob) who are all producing top notch beer as well as some fantastic label designs, it's really impressive stuff! (& something some breweries could take note of)
Will has recently given me a sample of some Ardbeg Supernova (2010) which was a real treat! He is determined to get me hooked on the stuff! This kindness & generosity stretches far and wide amongst everyone I communicate with on Twitter whether they are professional brewers, beer bloggers or simple avid beer geeks like myself. It definitely seems to be one big friendly community where at the end of the day, everyone simply likes great beer and is more than happy to talk about it. This is why I'm doing my first blog post, and I hope it will be the start of many.
I feel like this is a really exiting time for beer lovers as brewers seem to be pushing the boundaries as much as they can to come with new and exiting beers for us all to enjoy. This simple 'everyday' drink has so much to offer & I will continue to explore & learn as much as I can about this fantastic beverage until I can create a better understanding of what makes it so great!