It’s been three long months since UK pubs called last orders. 90 agonising days since the die-hard pintmen risked their lives for one last gulp of nectar from a draft. 2,160 soul-crushing hours of lockdown: pining for the sweaty push of the bar, the street-corner kebab after a wayward night on the tiles, the sweet promise of ‘just one more.’
But it’s not been all bad – has it? Because while we’ve lost freedom in some areas, we’ve gained it in others. The phrase ‘it’s 5’clock somewhere’ exists to remind us of implicit social norms. Without rules there is only chaos. And that chaos is officially upon us. Lockdown is like one long Wetherspoons sesh at Gatwick – but instead of your mates, you’ve got the tinny echo of Zoom. Cold one to rinse out your toothpaste in the morning? Go on then! Eleven Heinekens for elevenses? WHO’S GOING TO STOP YOU!?!?!
So my friends, savour the illicit thrill of being able to crack open an icy craft beer and drink it during Good Morning Britain – it won’t last forever.
10 – Peroni
They invented ravioli, we invented the sausage roll; their language sounds like a sonnet, ours sounds like an exuberant badger burrowing in the earth (*cough* Bojo); they’ve got Michaelangelo, we’ve got Vicky Pollard. When it comes to cultural prestige and general exotica, Italy firmly has the upper hand. But – Peroni? Is that really all you’ve got guys?
Peroni is like the conversation you have with your other half’s parents: ‘a drink, Mrs Harrison? Ahh, a peroni would be lovely, thanks’. Pleasant enough, a little flat, lacking in imagination — and infused with a sense of duty.
Situational sustenance: Watching Marley and Me with your little sister and crying softly. OR. Forced, stony faced, to join a virtual bottomless brunch with the self-satisfied couple who love referring to each other as ‘this one’ on social media.
9 – Corona
I’ll level with you: this one’s a pity vote. 2020 will go down as the year when Corona (the beer) got fully shafted by Corona (the deadly virus). 38% of Americans said they would never drink it again, while 16% said they were ‘confused’ about the connection between the two. Awkward. Corona is the frat bro of beers: gym shorts and Netjets cap on, fist-pumping to Diplo and ready to ‘rage’ by 1pm. Obnoxious, predictable – but still fun to get tanked with.
Situational sustenance: Afternoon chilling in the sun on the ‘lough pretending to read while madly refreshing instagram.
8 – Buxton – Shelterstone IPA
Can beer from a can ever taste as good as beer from a bottle? I would like to put forward a theory that: no, it cannot. Plus, there’s the size issue: 330ml in can form is less than 330ml in bottle form (don’t @ me) – but when clutching a 440ml-er, I feel less ‘switched-on city slicker’ and more ‘park bench-dweller with a thirst for Frosty Jacks’.
This passive-aggressively ‘vegan’ nectar (is other beer filtered through the ribs of a sentient beast?) which says it all, really. It’s aromatic, cloudy, and probably works in an artisan coffee shop part time.
Situational sustenance: Drowning your sorrows after being savagely dumped over the phone; your other half thinks you need to ‘work on yourself’.
7 – Siren – Soundwave IPA
This ones the goth kid at school who wrote angry poems and smelled like Patchouli oil – but ended up with a double first from Cambridge. Soundwave is fruity, edgy and mysterious, with a tropical mouthfeel leading into a bitter aftertaste. Or as one keen drinker described it: dank, bro.
Situational sustenance: Nerve-settler pre-Zoom date with your latest Hinge date.
6 – Pistonhead – Kustom Lager
If this weren’t lockdown but a glorious parallel universe, Pistonhead is the lukewarm can you reach for circa 8am at Glasto: coated in a film of your own filth, just pissed in a bottle, confused, treacherously hungover. Pistonhead is the beer that brings you back from the dead: one sip down and you’re raring to go again (yes, in the same pants you wore yesterday). It has a rich, malty fragrance with hints of syrup and a moreish mouthfeel. In other words, the stuff of legend.
Situational sustenance: Asked to leave Sainsburys because you’re ‘frightening the customers’.
5 – Skinny Lager
This one’s the guy you lived with at uni who always left his ketchup-smeared plates in the sink and had worse chat than David Brent. Now, inexplicitly, earns six figures, is going out with a 10 and drives an Audi. Smug bastard. I might be bitter but Skinny Lager certainly isn’t: despite its holier-than-thou branding (vegan! Gluten free! Kosher! Only 89 calories!) it’s delicious, with a clean, crisp flavour and a zesty finish.
Situational sustenance: Quiz night with your mates. Hilarity ensues as the fool in question spews up their one too many.
4 – Beavertown
Fruit in beer is an association that annoys me. When you’re on the cusp of getting a round in mere minutes before kick off and – oh – what’s this – a mullet-sporting bloke named ‘Frank’ has pushed ahead of you? No no, that’s fine, go ahead Frank. But wait. He’s ordering ‘four half-pints of Blue Moons, please’. Drafts run out because literally no one drinks it. Now there’s no orange slices. The bartender has to nip to the shop, be back in 5. FOR GODSAKE, FRANK!!! Beavertown doesn’t annoy me though. Far from it. It’s light, hazy, mild, with a moreish citrus twang from its blood orange infusion. One for the ages.
Situational sustenance: A summer evening. Rack of lamb roasting away. Half-cut, content, and wondering whether ‘Corona is nature’s way of repairing itself, y’know?’
3 – The Wild Beer Co – Bibble
Muy Buena! The WBC website claims Bibble is its ‘gateway Wild beer’, and I can confirm I’ve huffed on its hops every day since a dear friend introduced me; I assume the second B is a typo, because drinking it is a religious experience. It’s so tasty that I’ve been dangerously close to speeding around my native Surrey and doing holdups when I don’t get my fix – then I remember everyone here only drinks champagne. This session ale is the perfect fit for a can – fast, easy and delicious. It also comes by the barrel – and the way lockdown’s going, I’m not far off keg standing this bad boy.
Situational sustenance: A loose night of keg stands and drunken debauchery with Auntie Jill and her weird dachshund.
2 – Lockdown Living – Isolation lager
The phoenix that emerged from the ashes. The rainbow after the thunderstorm. The beer that lockdown gave birth to. This is a fruity, light and incredibly sessionable lager. As the packaging says, “one of those beers you drink 9 by mistake’ – and that’s just at lunchtime. HQ are currently brewing a Freedom IPA, and – judging by how good their Iso Lager is – I’d happily swap spend another month as a celibate, nocturnal hermit in social Antarctica for a sip of it. Plus, 50% of all profits go to the NHS so I like to think I’m doing my bit for the welfare state by inhaling these by the dozen.
Situational sustenance: Lunchtime BBQ. 27 degrees. Aggressively sunburnt down one side of your face. Accidentally given your whole family food poisoning with out-of-date sausages.
1 – Camden – Heroes thank you lager
Joe Wicks. Tiger King. Banana bread. Shaved heads. 5k runs. Endless, joyless organised fun. Lockdown has been a bumpy ride. It’s been impossible not to let it affect you, both physically and mentally (if I was weird in social situations before, how much have I regressed now!?). I’ve changed. You’ve changed. The world has changed.
But one thing that’s stayed the same is Hells lager, and here – repackaged with all proceeds from every can donated to support healthcare charities – it takes the top spot. Clean, crisp and dry, this hybrid between a Pilsner and a Helles lager is nicely balanced and just slithers down. So why the Hells not….drink one (or ten) now!
Situational sustenance: It’s Saturday. The sun is shining. The lads are blowing up the group chat. You switch on BBC1: there’s Bojo, badgering away like a lunatic. But what’s this…? Special service announcement. Pubs are… BACK OPEN?!!?!
By Pints Enjoyed, part of Life Enjoyed Ltd.