By Will Jones
As I write this missive I’m feeling somewhat delicate. I’m troubled by a malaise that makes my body and mind ache, while my stomach churns in slow regular rotations guaranteed to bring on a bout of queasiness with each turn. My ailment (much to my lovely wife’s disgust) is that bane of the late night reveler, that wrecker of the morning after, a hangover.
You may have noticed the odd reference in previous Outsider columns to ‘lovely warm flat beer’. It was this delicious beverage that I sampled last night. And when I say sampled, I mean I tasted first one pint then a second, closely followed by a third, fourth and so on, all in the name of research for my weekly report to you fair reader.
I made notes while drinking: mental notes on the ale, its taste, balance, body, aroma and tucked them safely into corners of my mind. Unfortunately, they were the same corners that I seem to have obliterated with an overindulgence of alcoholic beverages.
Hmm. And so, what to write? What interesting and informative ditties to delight you Haliburtonian folk with while I recover my usual journalistic swagger?
An excuse for my condition would perhaps be a good place to start. And for that I shall take you on an historical tour of the place of my birth. Bear with me and I’m sure you’ll see I can be forgiven for my hangover.
Burton-on-Trent, the town where I came into this world, grew up around the local monastery, which was founded in the 7th Century by St Modwen. Monks, doing what monks do best, began to brew beers almost as soon as they had the abbey walls complete (there was some praying, too, I’m sure, probably for their sore heads) and ever since the town has been renowned as a British brewing mecca.
By the mid-19th century, around the time when Haliburton was being founded, Burton’s 30 breweries were brewing over a quarter of all beer drunk in the country, as well as transporting it to the coast where it was shipped to India, Prussia and other far corners of the ever-expanding British Empire.
But, while this history is an interesting aside it is no excuse for my own sore head. However, Burtonian’s, being a folk keen to uphold tradition, have continued to brew beer and the public house is a favourite venue for reminiscing about, and tasting, their heritage. Today, the town is home to theNationalBrewingMuseum, while it and the surrounding district, which is geographically spread over an area of less than an eighth of the size of the Township of Minden Hills, has in excess of 200 pubs. You can now begin to see my predicament, I hope.
I have been back in Burton for just over two weeks and until last night I had managed to keep my sampling of the vast array of lovely warm flat local beer to a respectable level. However, my love of a good cask conditioned pint (these are the warm flat ones) overcame me when surrounded by old pals and a dizzying choice of beers.
In just one pub (this wasn’t some crazed teenage style pub-crawl around multiple establishments) there were eight different beers from four different breweries, and that’s not counting the fizzy lagers. My chums and I started out respectfully, commenting, as mentioned, on taste, balance, aroma and body. However, a few hours and a few beers later we’d mostly lost our ability to taste; we had no balance at all and the aroma! All I can say is that warm flat beer does strange things to your bowels.
And so, here I am with a headache and still gurgling stomach, wondering whether my on-the-job research and subsequent history lesson has served as adequate justification for my condition? It matters little I guess but just in case you are still frowning at me, here’s something to make you Canadians smile.
Burton-on-Trentmay have been founded some 900 years before Haliburton, 700 years before the colonization ofCanada, no less. And, its brewers may have shipped their wares all around the globe but you know who the biggest brewer inBurton-on-Trentis today? Molson Coors!