When the Beer Nut suggested writing about Lager (or at least pale beer) for this month’s session, my heart sank. Surely I could find nothing to say; given the miniscule proportion of ‘Lager’ I actually drink.
Then I had a think about it. I do drink lager! On holiday!
One of my loves is The Mediterranean. Some of my fondest memories stem from long, long nights in Greece, Spain, and Turkey (when I was younger), and indeed the cuisine informs most things that I cook from April to October. And despite the Med being full of awesome, cheap and mostly bespoke wine, flowing like nectar from numerous visited wineries, there’s something to be said for a lager, chilled the hell out of, and sipped at a beach bar with the sand between your toes.
Glistening bottles of Mythos and Marathon in Greece, getting greasy from the rapidly expanding pile of prawn shells piling up at the side of my plate. Efes Pilsner, Amstel and Heineken in Turkey, washing down the beauty that is the proper Turkish kebab. And huge steins of Kamenitza and Zagorka in Bulgaria, their flinty sharpness cutting through all that heavy, Eastern European food. Hell, the Greek island of Samos had reasonably kept Warsteiner in most bars (seemingly a concession to the amount of Germans that swarm the place in the summer), and that beer in particular underwrote most of my memories of that holiday. And don’t get me started on Spain and Cruzcampo. I could die in a vat of that stuff.
Of course, at night I generally flit back over to wine, but for me, the scorching heat of a typical summer’s lunchtime on holiday does, as much as I wouldn’t want to admit it, bring me memories of a cold, frosty one. So, despite my Beer Nerdism, Lager has its place in my palate after all. Imagine if I finally got around to visiting Czechoslovakia, or Germany!
I recently tasted Taddington Moravka on draught and it was possibly one of the best ‘lagers’ I’ve ever tasted. It certainly got me thinking – am I missing anything else in this area of beer I know the least about? Looks like I’ll be a little more interested in the world of (the palest) pale from now on. It doesn’t have to be cheap fizz, and if it does – well, as long as you’re in the right place, it can be very pleasant indeed.
The photo at the top is of sunset at an awesome fish joint in Sozopol, Bulgaria. The terrace was on the side of a sheer clifface, the crystal clear Black Sea below. We drank steins of Zagorka lager, and accompanied this with plate upon plate of fried whitebait and mussels and mozzarella topped tomato salad. The plan was to start there and then move on for the evening, but we didn’t. We just carried on there. Sometimes there’s no reason to move.