Written by Elaine Malcolmson


Why I ❤️ real ale

From beers infused with seaweed and pine needles to hops to name your firstborn after, Elaine Malcolmson has tried them all. Here, she sings the praises of the perfect pint.

selection of beer bottlesI used to think that a beer was a lager was an ale. What a fermented fool. Then, a few years ago I got into beer when I discovered real ales at my new local and became an apprentice beer geek. Soon, my eyes and my mind were blown wide open by the untold variety of beer. There are witbiers, weissbiers, lagers, Vienna lagers, IPAs, American IPAs, Black IPAs, Double IPAs, ales, brown ales, red ales, blonde ales, stouts, saisons, porters, pilseners and pale ales that can all be poured in a glass and slurped in yer mouth.

According to a handy app I’ve had nearly 500 different beers. Not just this week, calm down! I’ve had beers infused with seaweed, honey, blackcurrant, pine needles, rhubarb, porters with plums, stouts with coffee. You might need to sit down for this but Pilot brewery in Leith, Edinburgh, brew a wheat beer infused with Parma violets – that’s right, the sweeties! They also do a beautiful Iced Tea Ale. Yes, tea and beer, a restorative bi-beverage.

“The perfect pint is the one you’ve been thinking of for ages. It is when you strike up a conversation with a stranger at the bar and their story changes your way of thinking forever.”

I’m just a novice (for an expert see Melissa Cole, letmetellyouaboutbeer.co.uk) but I reckon there is a perfect pint for everyone. A beer for every taste, all weathers, every mood and occasion: just like ABBA singles.

Me, I like hops. My perfect pint is as hoppy as a trainee triple jumper on their first day at work. Brewers can do magical things with hops, mixing varieties together, single hopped, wet hopped, dry hopped, whole cone hopped. Hops can make beers taste like grapefruit, oranges, lemon or bananas without going near a fruit bowl or interfering with your five a day. I love the tastes, the smells and even the names of hops: Amarillo, Fuggle, Cascade, Simcoe, Chinook, Golding, Nugget, all perfect baby names.

pint of aleWait one malty minute though, or just long enough for your beer to settle: it’s not only the beer that makes the perfect pint. The perfect pint is the one at the end of a hard day, when you’ve been hassled and stressed and it is finally over. It is the first outside one of the year, when you can feel vitamins on your face and look forward to a long summer of blue skies. The perfect pint is with friends you haven’t seen in weeks and don’t know where to start catching up. It is the first holiday beer when everything is left behind for a while.

The perfect pint is with your other half when you say nothing, but it means everything. It is by yourself, tucked in a corner beside a fire with a book. The perfect pint is always the one that some clown has knocked over and spilt. It is where you share all your worries and your troubles pass away. The perfect pint is the one you’ve been thinking of for ages. It is when you strike up a conversation with a stranger at the bar and their story changes your way of thinking forever. The perfect pint is when a dog in the bar takes a liking to you and falls asleep on your feet.

Please drink responsibly; one perfect pint is always much better than a load of not perfect pints.


  • googleplus
  • linkedin
  • rss
  • pinterest

Written by Elaine Malcolmson

Elaine Malcolmson is a comedian, writer and science communicator. Raised in Northern Ireland, lived in Wales, now resides in Glasgow – bewildering brogue.