Monday, April 4, 2011

My World of Taste, Flavours and Aromas

The first beer I ever drank was a Red Stripe, at about the age of 12, growing up in Jamaica that was a rite of passage to manhood you were given a Red Stripe and told to hold your corners, which means with beer in hand stand to the side, look cool, observe what is happening around you, chill out and relax.  It was easy to switch between Red Stripe and Heineken they were both lagers with similar taste, so when moseying up to the bar the normal order would be “Boss man, let off a Red Stripe or Heineken nuh!” to me they were interchangeable. 

I never liked the Traditional Brewed Guinness available in Jamaica at the time, it was far too bitter for my young tender palate so I avoided it whenever possible and found out very early in life that mix liquor was not for me, the worst hangover I ever had came from abusing Vodka and orange juice. However later in life my cousin introduced me to "Myers rum, ginger ale with a twist of lime", for a while that was my signature drink, bar tenders would immediately start mixing my drink as I approach the bar. Then I was introduce to Guinness Draught by a friend while on a visit to England and to this very day a proper pint of Guinness is my stout of choice, I use to measure all other stouts using the “Guinnessness “ scale but these days I know better, Guinness Draught is unique.

It was also while in England that I was introduce to my first pint of Real Ale, my brother in-law took me down to his local pub in Earls Court and ordered a pint of “Courage Directors” that was the day my palate lost its virginity, my senses came alive to a whole new world of beer flavours and aromas, taken to the nexus of the beer universe only to be yanked back on leaving England.  Real ale is addictive and the withdrawal process is not a pretty sight to see, I searched high and low hoping for my next fix, for a taste of this Nectar of the gods.

On subsequent visits to England, London became more and more my stop over location, big city bright lights, been there done that, it was the English countryside, the County of Devon that became my ultimate destination, green and lush with rolling hills, wide open spaces and big skies, small quaint villages pack full of old world charm, history and tradition on every corner, this was my Jewel in the Queen’s crown, Devon is the Mecca of Real Ale and each visit represents my pilgrimage to her.

The English countryside represents quality to me, everything has flavor, everything has taste, everything is fresh, everything is properly prepared, everything is traditional and it is this kind of attention to details why English Ale is the finest in the world. I am not a fan of over the top, hyper hoppy, big alcohol by volume beers, beers so aggressive it feels like it’s ripping out the back of your throat and your insides.  I like a well balanced beer, a perfect blend of ingredients to create a beer that is full of flavor, hoppy yet subtle, with alcohol content between 3 and 6%. I am not oppose to beers with higher alcohol contents so long as flavor is not sacrificed to achieve this and only when I am in the mood for just one or two pints or at home on my couch.  I love beer, I like to drink lots of it, different types, different flavours , I enjoy that but I find overly aggressive beers counterproductive to that process, I do not drink to get drunk, that is not my aim and I do not like it when beers with big alcohol contents bring about a premature end to my nights of Beer exploration.

Nothing beats the experience of having a proper pint of ale in a proper pub and for that, Britain gets high marks from me, a pint of Doombar Bitters or Proper Job at the 13th century Cherub Inn, in Dartmouth will stay with me a lot longer than a pint in most other places. The right location can enhance the drinking experience, there is nothing like a beer after lunch on the beach at Frenchman’s Cove in Port Antonio, Jamaica or a pint of cask conditioned ale at The Ship Inn, Noss Mayo in Devon, England after having Roast shank of Devon lamb, served with roasted root vegetables and rosemary, garlic sauce for lunch. The right beer paired with the right food, in the right location, can be a Holy Experience, one that stays with you for a very long time.

It is not only beer that excites me, Appleton 21 Year Old Rum is to die for … it is perfection, liquid gold and should only be served neat, so one can enjoy the flavours and the aromas that the brew masters spent 21 years creating. I have tried the Appleton 30 Year Old Rum, it is a very nice rum but I still prefer the 21, maybe because I am use to it.

When it comes to coffee nothing beats a cup of authentic Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee, I prefer the Alex Twyman's Old Tavern Coffee brand and I do not care what animal you have in which jungle crapping out beans to me nothing can compare to a cup of Blue Mountain Coffee served black, no milk no sugar and certainly none of those other rubbish flavours, when I drink coffee, I want to taste and smell coffee not vanilla.

So this is the world I find myself in, a world of taste, flavours and aromas, challenging my senses at every turn, daring me to analyze the things I consume, each one creating mental tasting notes. Even foods and drinks that I grew up eating and drinking now taste different to me because my palate and I have matured, Natural, Organic and Fresh are now words I live by.

The Speaker, Westminster London

The Modbury Inn

The Exeter Inn, Modbury

Appleton Estate 50 Year Old Jamaica Rum
Enjoy a cup of Twyman's Blue Mountain Coffee


  1. Nice to see you enjoying our real ale's and a taste of the English countryside. Always nice to hear foreigners compliment our country.
    As an englishman i always get the impression that many Jamaicans think of London and England like something you see on those old 1960's adventure films with castles and kings, i think this is because i know most Jamaicans experience of England would have come from the Television. I can only imagine the shock and dissapointment of many of those(especially in the windrush years) who arrived to dirty streets and poor housing estates, what a shock that must have been, and the cold weather.
    I'm glad someone is enjoying England anyway, if you liked Devon try visiting Yorkshire or Mid Wales, both very nice places full of real ale pubs.
    Nice post....

  2. Thank you so much for your response, I will most certainly visit Yorkshire and Wales when next I am in the UK, which I hope to be this summer. Planning to explore a bit and visit some beer and food festivals around England.