People who write blogs on the internet or make podcasts generally don't get invited to parties. But sometimes mistakes are made and invitations are posted and I end up at a party. If I'm headed to a party hosted by a beer enthusiast, then the choice of what to bring is joyful. However, too often, the parties are mainstream affairs normally involving a BBQ, slabs of beer, wine and nibbles. This is where the choice gets difficult. Do I conform to the mainstream and buy something that has widespread appeal or do I stick to my convictions and bring what I want?
Clearly this is only a dilemma for the thoughtful beer drinker as any right thinking Australian wouldn't think twice. Like skipping the house wine and buying the second on the list, they would overlook the VB and collect a bunch of Crownies 'for a treat'. After all, you wouldn't want your fellow party goers to think you were cheap. The other alternatives would be the premium imports such as Heineken, Stella or Budweiser. If you really wanted to impress, bring a slab of Coronas and you'll be loved for ever. I have chosen this option once or twice and it was very well received by the hosts but made a very sad night for myself.
Mostly, I have chosen to stick to my convictions and bring something I wanted to drink. But I learned from watching my dad who is a strict Guinness drinker. I mean that. He only drinks Guinness and tea. Occasionally water, by accident, but Guinness and tea seem to do the trick the rest of the time. His preference is Guinness straight from the tap or in the can. In a strange way, he has paid for drinking 'differently', buying a extra round in the pub to compensate for the fact that Guinness was a good forty pence more expensive than rival pints. But my dad always brought Guinness Draught in cans to a party. That was the only thing he would drink so it wasn't a difficult choice. But a peculiar thing happened half way through the night when party goers, who were drinking 'the lager' all night, noticed the Guinness. Before long, the Guinness appeared to seduce anyone who opened the fridge. I'm not sure whether this phenomena has a special name but it did lead my mum to hide the Guinness under the buffet table surrounding it with a protective forcefield called a supermarket carrier bag.
In my own experience, I was responsible for selecting the beers for a party in Brighton (I am generally not invited to parties in Brighton and have never been invited back). Clearly, my brief was to satisfy the masses. I called a close beer loving friend and asked for advice. "Corona. Corona. They bloody love that shit. But get something nice for us." I bought Corona. I also bought Asahi, Heineken, Peroni, Beez Neez (because I'm rad) and a couple of curve balls. Knowing that I had a handful of good beer lovers attending this party, I got a slab of Adnam's Ghost Ship Pale Ale, Two Birds Sunset Ale and supplied some oatmeal stout that I had brewed at home and had turned out, well, drinkable. So, the beers disappeared in this order...Two Birds was gone first, Ghost Ship took a pounding and the mainstreamers seemed to hang around for the night.
Why was Two Birds gone first?! I was embarrassed when my mate turned up to the party 90 minutes late and had managed to snag the last bottle of Sunset Ale. This wasn't supposed to happen. The Brightonites were supposed to smash the Coronas posing with their lemon and lime lager. But they didn't. I felt both heartened and bereft in equal amounts. The best beer had gone first. The tasty, fresh beer had disappeared but so had my faith in Brighton's party scene. Where was my mum with a Tesco carrier bag and uncanny ability to locate the impenetrable spot under a buffet table? Clearly not in Brighton. So whatever beers I bring to the next party, I need to come armed with a carrier bag, a buffet table and a mother's instinct.