Did you know that beer is the most imbibed alcoholic beverage in the world, miles ahead of wine, cider, and spirits? In fact beer outsells wine in every country in the world apart from three (according to the Beer Academy): France, Italy, and quite bizarrely Bulgaria. Actually, beer is the third most consumed liquid in the world, behind water, and –yes, you’ve guessed it – tea.
Wherever you go in the world, the British are associated with drinking tea. Down on your luck? Have a cup of tea. Lost your job? Have a cup of tea. Wife run off with the milkman? Cup of tea (without milk). It’s the solve-all, comfort-inducing, problem-solving choice of beverage for us Brits. It’s classless, time defying, inclusive and cheerfulness in a cup.
Which brings me on to why I’m writing about this week’s beer – Hogs Back TEA. Exactly 12 years ago this week I applied for a position at Cask Marque. I really, really wanted the job. I was interviewed, interviewed again, and then invited to meet the board of directors over dinner one evening (or tea as we call it in Yorkshire). This was a big test for me, and one I was very nervous about – you only get one chance at making a first impression, and all that. Best frock on, I ventured into London and met with a group of people who would decide my future career. I was seated next to a man called Rupert who, by his very nature, soothed my nerves, encouraged my opinions and alleviated my anxiety. He was my cup of tea that night.
What’s all this got to do with Hogs Back TEA? How is this connected to that chap called Rupert who sat next to me many moons ago? Well, he now heads up Hogs Back brewery and he, along with a talented head brewer, created TEA.
What a flipping great name for a beer! To be fair to my Welsh and Scottish friends who might rile at the Traditional English Ale acronym, TESWA doesn’t quite have the same ring.
Hogs Back TEA is brewed in buildings which at various periods over time housed cattle, wheat and hogs, hence the name of the brewery. The brewery epitomises the unique juxtaposition of old school farming heritage and cutting edge modern brewing technology. Most of the hops used are sourced within 5 miles of the buildings, including their own back yard in Tongham, Surrey. Their historic Farnham White Bine hops are not grown anywhere else in the world.
TEA only uses Fuggles hops, and this lovely copper coloured, caramel scented 4.2% beer embodies a great British bitter. It’s balanced, it’s fruity, it won’t alienate the hop heads out there, nor will it offend the traditionalists. It has all the elements of a good time-defying beer which is set to delight drinkers, young and old, who appreciate a well constructed quality ale.
It’s also wonderfully versatile with food: Hogs Back recommend TEA with good old fish ‘n’ chips (great if you’re heading to the coast this May Day weekend). But if the sun comes out this weekend, think of that great British picnic tradition: have your TEA with Scotch Eggs, sausage rolls, slices of salty vintage cheddar and ham rolls.