The World Cup is almost here – hurrah ! I hate summers with no football. The Euros are great but the World Cup is even better as I love the fact that you can watch endless games of world class football at weird times of the day.
I also love the way Jo Public gets behind the teams- the flags on houses, cars, mobility scooters, shops and of course pubs.
Humans seem to be tribal and vast numbers of people joining together in a common interest is an phenomenon that fascinates me and one that can be seen in all manner of things.
I’m a Crystal Palace fan but recently visited Leyton Orient FC at the invite of a fellow Bromley CAMRA commitee member.
It was the last league game of the season against Tranmere. Orient were already in the play offs for the Championship so there was a carnival atmosphere around the ground. Orient won 2-0 which made the mood even better.
Great as it was to go to a ground I hadn’t previously visited to watch a game I have to come clean and say my main reason for visiting was the CAMRA award winning supporters club. The club is open to all on Saturday afternoon match-days but check their website for details http://www.orientsupporters.webeden.co.uk
The beer choice was fantastic with around six hand pumps on at any given time. Both before and after the game demand was great in the packed club so it was hard to keep track of what was available. We tried many many great beers including Oscar Wilde from Essex’s Mighty Oak brewery. At 3.7% ABV this Mild has a cream head and a treacle nose. It has nice coffee notes and is a well balanced beer. I can see why CAMRA voted it Champion Mild of Britain 2006 and Champion Beer of Britain 2011.
Also on from Mighty Oak were Eggstatic, a 3.7% ABV blonde beer which I understand was a one off special and Tit for Tat, a bitter with an ABV of 4% which is the brewery’s April Special.
What I love about my visit to Leyton Orient is the fact that it was borne out of two common interests i.e. beer and football. A combination that let’s face it gets pretty negative media coverage – I mean how long is it going to be before we see front page headlines of beer / football induced violence this summer?
But beer is more than just an alcoholic drink. I say over and over that beer is part of Britain’s heritage but also as with the example above of my day out at Leyton Orient it’s great for social cohesion.
There are after all other great beer inspired social gatherings. If you run for example how about taking part in the Romsey Road Runners 28th annual beer race being held on Sunday 8 June 2014 at 10.30am. Advance entries are now closed but according to their website you can still show up on the day and enter- check web site for details http://www.romseyroadrunners.co.uk. I understand you get a pint at the end of the run-better than the banana and vouchers you normally get in your post 10k ‘goody’ bag.
If you fancy something more sedate you could try to find a beer and book club. Such clubs seem to be popular in the States, see for example http://www.meetup.com/MichiganBeer-Book-Club. I have yet to find such a club here in the UK but I’m sure they are out there…?
So BEER- more than a drink but a way of life! Now I must go and dig out my England shirt ready for kick off. Can’t wait!