On the rare times when I meet up with my friends to discuss boring chores , husbands ex and present, boyfriends, his kids, our kids, pets, mothers in law, George Osborne’s austerity (is that the new in-word?) budget and England’s shameful defeat by the Germans, of course we get drunk. My friends get drunk mostly on ladies’ drinks: wine, G&T, occasional cocktails, very rarely on plain spirits. I get drunk on beer. I am a simple soul in love with the hop. All my relationships, marriages, divorces, bad decisions and occasional good ones were witnessed by hops. Not hopes but hops!
I imagine I suddenly win the lottery – not all six numbers but five – or I get made redundant and get redundancy pay – and am suddenly flush with money. What would I do?
I would go on a beer tour.
My first beer festival could only start after 20th January. After celebrating a Catholic Christmas, (25th December), New Year (31st December), Serbian Orthodox Christmas (7th January), Serbian New Year (14th January) and my mum’s family’s Saint Day, St Jovan, (20th January), I would be ready to begin my beer odyssey.
The first one I would visit would be near my current adobe which is in the UK, in Buckinghamshire, and the closest beer festival is one which takes place in Cambridge between 21 and 23 January. They are even asking for volunteers which is tempting. If you’re not totally incapacitated you can do some sightseeing, as Cambridge is a well known University City.
Then I would make a little break to get my liver back to normal. Between 4th and 6th February I would attend the Pendle beer festival in Colne, Lancashire. Still England. They like their beer and I knew which country to choose when decided to move out of mine! The Pendle Beer Festival is very interesting because this year the theme was “Down on the Farm” with all the beer given the name of animals and birds. This festival is held for the benefit for the local hospital! There is not much to see beyond the festival but your money spent on beer is going to good causes.
As March approaches I would like to get some spring sunshine and would go to Florida for their annual Beer Festival which takes place in Tampa on the 6th March. If you don’t want to do any sightseeing or make any contributions to society you can go for a swim. Make sure you are not drunk!
April is Easter and that’s a very good reason to attend a beer festival. This month you can continue from Tampa in Florida to Chicago and attend a beer festival with a very posh title: Craft Brewers Conference and Brewexpo of America. Among the drinking activities this beer festival includes a World Beer Cup competition!
After two long months in the USA I would move to Japan and instead of drinking sake I would go to the Great Beer Festival in Tokyo which took place 5-6th June this year. Also try to visit the Meiji shrine, you won’t regret it. You can take a bullet train from Tokyo and continue to Osaka for the Beer Festival there which takes place in July.
Summer months are beer festival months and there are so many of them. I think we, beer lovers, should have July as World Beer Month, WBM! From Japan you can go back to the UK and pick one of the zillions of beer festivals which take place during this month or head to a new, recently independent country in Eastern Europe, MACEDONIA, for a beer festival which takes place in Prilep. Or try one of the biggest Nordic BEER Festivals which takes place in Estonia. The website is in Estonian only but I am sure you can recognise word ber in Estonian which means beer.
You can head to Malta for the Farson Great Beer Festival and local Cisk beer.
During August I would go to the BELGRADE Beer Festival not just because they have the best beer in the world but purely for sentimental reasons, as I was born in Belgrade. The local brew called Jelen is cheap but recommended for hard core labourers. The word for beer in Serbian is pivo but is the same in all the ex-republics of the former Yugoslavia. Saying pivo, you actually speak six different languages!
After Belgrade I would fly to Beijing and get a train to Qingdao for the famous Beer Festival in CHINA which takes place in August. The factory was set up in 1903 by German settlers in this part of China. The beer which they produce is called Tsingdao which tastes very good and it’s widely available in China. Next to the factory there is a museum which is well worth a visit. Qingdao is a very interesting city to visit as there is a lot of German architecture still standing, such as the residence of the German ambassador and the Catholic Church.
September I would spend in Brussels not because there is much to see in Brussels but to attend the Belgian Beer Festival, and get connected to Stella , my favourite beer.
October I would spend in Germany for the world’s largest beer festival. But I heard the same expression (world’s largest) in China as well.
November would be reserved for a Beer festival closer to home, Manchester
And December I would relax at home getting ready for Christmas. Of course with a few Stellas.