The horror of gluten-free beer

I was reminded of the worst liquid that I have ever consumed. It was the last occasion on which I drank Coca-Cola, nearly 50 years ago. To be fair to Coke, this bottle was at room temperature, and the room was in the Anatolian peninsula, during the ferocity of high summer. A group of us were travelling in a battered old bus, still four hours by bad roads from Izmir, hot water and cold beer. Having run out of bottled water, we needed something to stave off dehydration. The village offered a choice: well water or parboiled Coke. An aristocratic French leftie was moved to a declamation: ‘Moi, j’ai un

What makes the perfect pint?

‘Always order your Guinness first in the round,’ Aaron begins ‘when you get it, let it settle before your first sip – half the pleasure is in the patience.’ He’s pouring a pint at Homeboy, his bar in Nine Elms where he and his business partner Ciarán Smith serve some of the best Guinness in London. These words of wisdom were first bestowed on him by his father Liam Wall. ‘If you drink it in less than three sips, you’re a pig. If you drink it in more than seven, you don’t deserve it and if you take so long to drink it the head goes yellow, then we’ll take it

Bitter memories: my craving for a pint

It is enough to drive a man to drink. The most glorious weather, so suitable for white Burgundy on a picnic in a meadow-full of wild flowers, for rosé almost anywhere: above all, for beer. A few weeks ago, I wrote longingly about the thought of a pint of beer. Time has passed; the craving has intensified. Nor am I alone. Chatting to a friend about fine vintages being used as palliatives — these bottles I have shored against my lockdown — we agreed that there are moments when a foaming beaker of English wallop would hit the spot more satisfyingly than the most awe-inspiring bottle from Bordeaux or Burgundy.