Beer is good for you. That’s not just me trying to convince myself that my bottle of real ale a day habit isn’t damaging my health, but the view of doctors.
Research suggests it can help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, aid weight loss and even balance hormones. (In addition to the very obvious benefits of tasting wonderful, lubricating social interaction and making you feel all warm and cuddly. Plus, in my case, making me extremely interesting and amusing. Ask my wife!)
Dr Stephan Domenig, medical director of The Original F.X. Mayr Health Centre in Austria, said: “If you analysed beer you would be amazed at how many super-nutrients there are in it.
“Beer contains all of the essential – and many of the non-essential – amino acids.”
Choose unpasteurised beer for the greatest health benefits. Pasteurising, or heating to prolong its shelf-life, reduces some nutritional value as the ‘living’ content is removed, says Georgina Young, head brewer at Fuller’s.
Beer is also high in B vitamins and low in sugar, high levels of which have been linked to diabetes and obesity.
Nutritionist Dr Kathryn O’Sullivan, who last year carried out a scientific review of beer, said: “Compared with soft drinks, it will give less of a blood sugar spike. Beer is about 93 per cent water so it’s quite hydrating.”
And despite the threat of a so-called ‘beer belly’, a study of nearly 2,000 regular beer drinkers by the University of London concluded it’s unlikely that moderate intake is associated with large weight gain.
Dr Domenig said: “Drinking beer increases the production of bile, which helps us to digest fatty food.”
Although beer drinking is usually associated with brain fog, research suggests it might help prevent Alzheimer’s.
The disease, which affects almost 500,000 people in the UK, has been linked to high levels of aluminium, but the silicon in beer may offset the damage.
Isn’t all of this wonderful news? Doesn’t it make you want to cry with joy and nip out for a well-earned pint? It does me.
Unfortunately, as a Reluctant Housedad to three children, married to a woman who works all the hours God sends, I’m not allowed out much.
But even when I am half the local pubs in my area have been closed down, and the other half sell chemical lager and badly-kept, freezing cold bitter. I’m a middle-aged man. I need ale. Fact!
Enter stage left, Ales By Mail, recommended to me by a fellow blogger.
Its online bumf says: “Ales By Mail was created to champion the amazing beers produced by the craft breweries of the world, which offer so much more than the industrialised beers that dominate supermarket shelves today.
“Not every craft beer reaches the level of quality or flavour we demand. We search for the highest quality beer, taste test them all and visit where they’re made, to ensure you are getting the very best craft beer available online.
“Ales By Mail is for everyone, whether you are already a beer lover, looking for something new, or searching for a unique gift for friends or family, we have built this store to give you all the information you need to make an informed purchase.”
Well, that sounds beer-youtiful, doesn’t it? R-ale-y great!
With the aid of a ‘Try a few on us’ voucher supplied to me for review purposes, I decided to give Ales By Mail a go.
There are a range of shopping options – by mixed case, style of beer, country of origin, strength of beer, brewery etc etc.
I went for a mixed case: the 15 bottle UK Real Ale Selection for £35 (around £2.30 per 500ml bottle – a quid or more cheaper than the gassy/flat rubbish in what’s left of my locals).
It arrived the next day, and then I started drinking it. A bottle a night, sometimes with food, sometimes without.
I’ve saved a couple of bottles with the intention of creating a recipe or two with them, but they might not last that long.
Here’s how they went down…
The brew: Crouch Vale Essex Boys
Description: Classic best bitter , favourite with Essex folk. Chestnut-coloured ale described as a ‘riot of malt and hops’
Emotional response: I’m not from Essex but I loved this. A wonderful session ale which is as god as anything I’ve had from a well-kept keg. I could drink this until the cows or my wife came home, whichever walked through the door first.
The brew: Paqui Brown
Description: A brown ale from Valencia, Spain. Have a look at the label: see what they’ve done there? It’s a play on Jackie Brown, though the ‘why?’ eludes me.
Emotional response: Deep, malty and yeasty. Very sippable and a good accompaniment to strong foods, such as chilli con carne, beef stew. If I had it again, I’d use it in a recipe to make steak and ale pie.
The brew: Sambrooks Pumphouse Pale Ale
Description: Named after the Iron Pumphouse in Battersea, South West London. A golden ale with a sharp ‘marmalade’ citrussy taste.
Emotional response: Loved it. Very easy drinking. Quaff, quaff, quaff.
The brew: Humpty Dumpty Broadland Sunrise
Description: Look at that label: makes you want to dive right in, doesn’t it? This comes from the magnificently named Humpty Dumpty Brewery in Reedham, Norfolk. It’s a red-orange ale brewed with rye, with a crisp, citrus, hoppy taste.
Emotional response: Tastes exactly how it feels on the bottle. Like a walk in the countryside. You can almost hear the skylarks singing.
The brew: Moorhouse Brewery’s Black Cat
Description: Brewed in Burnley, Lancashire, this is a dark ruby ale with a rich, dry, chocolatey malt taste.
Emotional response: Reminded me of the ‘mild’ my dad used to drink in his local. Ominous to look at but delicious to drink. I thought this would be a lot stronger than it was but it made for surprisingly light and refreshing drinking.
The brew: Tiny Rebel: The Full Nelson
Description: For a pale ale, this really packs a punch (the hint is the beaten up teddy bear on the label). This is a a Maori ale from New Zealand.
Has a very grapey flavour, which worked very well with a chicken salad.
The brew: Brentwood IPA
Description: Lightly hopped pale session bitter.
Emotional response: Label says it’s a ‘refreshing pint after a hard day’s work’ and it was. You don’t even need to work hard to enjoy it. Just watch the cricket instead.
The brew: Ilkley Joshua Jane
Description: Nut-brown Yorkshire ale with a hint of caramel.
Emotional response: ‘Deceptively different’ it says on the label. I wasn’t so sure about that, but it was very obviously lovely. Another cracking session beer.
The brew: Celt Experience Dark Age
Description: Elegant, smooth, chocoate-caramel taste. From Caerphilly.
Emotional response: ‘Elegant’ is about right. Very easy drink which I enjoyed with chicken satay. I’m not sure how good a match that was, but it was delicious anyway.