Ice, Ice, Ice (beer), baby

Published on 2 December 2008 in , ,

I can still remember where I was, when it was and what I was drinking when I had my first pint of ale.

It was towards the end of Easter term – the closing stages of my first year at the University of Durham. I can’t quite remember who was there, bar a bloke affectionately known as Smudge (I can’t for the life of me remember his real name) and I think Jack was there. He wasn’t called Jack either but his surname was Horner, so� well� you get the picture.

The place was the Junior Common Room bar of St Cuthbert’s Society (the Durham college that’s not a college – the university have been trying to sort that one out for years, to the continued disapproval of its students and alumni).

Throughout my first year I’d imbibed mostly cider (Blackthorn Dry) until I began to realise how drunk three pints made me, and lager – Coors or Becks because they actually tasted of something (I never liked Stella, nor the weak lagers like Carling or Heineken.)

As I recall, Smudge mostly drank lager but on that day he was drinking one of the guest ales and proclaimed that it was mighty fine, coming as it did, from near his home town. He was supping Greene King Abbot Ale, and invited me to try some.

I never looked back, and whilst I generally try to avoid Greene King’s beers these days (Greene King IPA is just far too ubiqutous in London) I still have a soft spot for the odd Abbot Ale if I see it on tap.

But in this tale, there’s just one thing puzzling me.

What did I used to drink before university? See, for the life of me, I can’t remember. And it’s not as if I didn’t go to the pub prior to university because I did. Hey, everyone did.

I remember that pint of cider I ordered in a pub in Stalybridge – my first (illegal) underage drink after we’d been to the nearby cinema to see Frankenstien (the sore knee caused by two female companions on either side of me, gripping it every time something scary happened also sticks in the mind). There were the cheap, unknown branded bottles of Pils that used to be on for a £1 on “Student Nights” in Ashton-under-Lyne. And for some unknown reason, ice beers. I drank a fair few of them I’m sure.

Was that it? Is that the sum of my pre-ale, pre-university drinking habits? Drinking faddy lagers that disappeared without a trace, or whatever the pub had on special offer to try and tempt the underage drinking crowd (and hey, they knew most of their punters on “Student Night” were at sixth form and mostly 17).

And did I actually like drinking any of those drinks? Did I sup Labbat’s Ice and go, yes, this is a tasty beverage? And more importantly, just what else is there from 14 years ago that I’ve completely forgotten? And is it actually important anyway?

I think the answer to that one is� probably not…