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Beer for Every Occasion

By: Mike Watson - Updated: 28 Mar 2013 | comments*Discuss
Lunch Early Afternoon Nightcap Picnic

As beer is so versatile it is possible to choose a specific beer to suit any point in the day or event in the year. With the idea of serving beer with food growing in popularity, there really is no reason why beer cannot accompany any occasion. (See related article: 'Serving Beer with Food'). Whilst wine lovers recant the age old arguments that wine is both more flavoursome and stronger than beer, and therefore more ideally suited to a celebration, the beer fan can readily counter with recent scientific evidence that it is actually ale that contains a wider range of tastes (both overall and within one glass) and that celebratory beers are sometimes produced with a strength of up to 15%!

With the huge variety that beer offers, it is possible to go throughout the days and weeks drinking an ideally matched beer at each and every point of the evening and year. For beer ideally matched to the season, refer to related article, 'Seasonal Beers', for beers to match your mood, the occasion, or the time of day look no further!

Beers for Lunch

Lunch time is about as early as one could sensibly drink, and due to the fact that by this time you will not have had much to eat already it is best to enjoy a light beer such as a 'session' bitter or lager, if the occasion is right. You would do well to note, that in parliamentary speak, politicians are often dismissed for wayward remarks with the rebuttal that they had made their comment 'after lunch'! Even in the hard drinking culture that still surrounds parliamentary debate, a lunchtime drink is often considered to signal one thing - the slippery slope to continued afternoon drinking, drunkenness, and, therefore, incompetence! Stick to 3-4% bitter (such as 'Jupiter', 3.4%, by Milton breweries, which retains a strong flavour despite its weakness), or a lager such as Hofbrau (4%).

Beers for Early Afternoon

An early afternoon beer with a snack can be a welcome freshener either in the summer (when it will help you to cool down) or the winter (to warm you up). You may wish in the summer to try a light ale such as 'Harvey's Pale Ale' (at only 3.5%), or if you want something a little stronger, Harvey's 'Southdown Harvest Ale' (5.5%), both of which carry a hoppy reviving flavour. In the winter you may want something with a kick like Westwood's 'Dog's Bollocks Ale' (5.2%) which with its citrus flavours and warming malts should be sufficient to shake off those late afternoon blues and that winter chill.


A small glass of barley wine should be sufficient to relax with and send you nodding off Fuller's Vintage Ale (8.5%), in a brandy style glass. The warm flavours of Fuller's Vintage are ideal for a small tipple before lights out! Also worth a try is the Trappiste's Rochefort Ale (11.3%) with its strong tastes of chocolate, dark berries and a warming hint of alcohol.

Beers for a Picnic

The ultimate picnic beer would have to be a Belgian fruit beer, wheat beer or white beer. For a fruit beer try a Strawberry Fruli (4.1%). This most outrageous of beers would never have sat comfortably in English pubs before recent attitudes to beer drinking changed. It goes well with desserts, fruits and cheeses, and in its 250ml bottle is ideal for a summer picnic. A crisp chilled white beer, such as Hoegaarden, with its sharp tastes will also compliment picnic foods.

Beers for Entertaining

O.K, so some guests are going to cringe if you reach for the beers on a special evening - it could even potentially ruin a dinner date. However, if you pick the right beer you are likely to impress. For simplicity's sake, try a bottle of IPA chilled and served with dark meats. If you really want to impress go for something luxuriant such as Young's 'Double Chocolate Stout' with a heavy dessert. To get a party going, try beer cocktails (see related article) which can actually be quite classy, whilst also having the benefit of getting people in the mood for partying relatively quickly!

Whatever the occasion there is a beer, or several beers, to match. It is worth having a variety to hand and letting friends and guests contribute their favourites. With a little effort, your choice of beer will enhance any occasion, and you will soon be left loathe to just settle for any old lager!

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