Sunday, August 21, 2011

Some Unexpected Beery Gifts

Beer drinkers are by far the easiest people to buy for. As with all hobbyists, the gift-buyer has a helpful theme to guide their purchases. But with crime fiction geeks, stamp collecters, and the like, you're always gripped with the same anxiety "Wonder if he already has this…"

This is not a problem with beer drinkers.

"Happy birthday. The guy at the store said it was a good one. You haven't drank it before, have you?"
"Several times. Got three in the cellar. Split one with Jeff this morning as a matter of fact. Ooh it's cold. It's perfect I LOVE IT!"

Recently two lovely people surprised me with beer gifts of remarkable quality. I want to say thank you.

At a recent kid's party I took my daughter to, I got chatting to the grandmother of the birthday boy — a gifted potter who had made some great clay beer mugs so that the dads could drink beer at a child's party with impunity. I mentioned my own preference for a handled mug like a Stein or a Tankard. Two weeks later a shoebox turns up at my daughter's daycare, addressed to me:

Each mug holds 600ml, was fired to 2200 ºF (making it "mid-range", a very durable pot), and both are coloured with varying combinations of the colours "Brown Sugar" and "Roses are Red" (inspiration came from here). These details will mean more to potters. Most important for me is that, aside from looking quite beautiful, these mugs are great drinkers. The tankard especially has a pleasing plumpness, and I enjoy feeling the fine grain of the clay warming as I slowly swill a mild ale. Thanks so much, Sharon!

Next up is this lovely tray, bought for me by Ian the "beer prick". It features five offerings from the Northern Club's Federation Brewery Ltd (Newcastle on Tyne).

Now, there is a bittersweet end to this tale of generosity. While researching the Federation Brewery in order to write this post, a thought occurred to me: Could this be the same Federation Brewery responsible for Federation Ace Lager? A.K.A 8Ace — also the name of my beloved Viz cartoon character of the same name, who has a truly special fondness for "th' ace"?

It is. This tray was made by the same people who made 8 Ace. A more perfect gift (except 8 cans of Ace) I could not imagine.

Unfortunately, I also learned that the Northern Federation Brewery went out of business this year after 82 years of brewing (most of it superior to Ace, I happily report). But now they have been unceremoniously ousted by owners Heineken UK.




  1. Nice bit of pottery, that. German or Czech beer from a ceramic krug is one of life's great pleasures. We try not to accumulate too much beery tat but we have, over the years, picked up quite a few.

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