Burst of banana
Remember school? No, me neither. But we all did the essay "What I did on my holiday".
Well, here's the grown-up version: "What I drank on my holiday".
Brewdog Punk IPA
I can't remember how cheap this was but it was super-cheap off the supermarket shelf in Derry and more delicious than I could have expected.
Yes, I was in Ireland, where it's easy (and cheap) to find good Scottish, English and American beer. You can get Brewdog Punk IPA in New Zealand but not for £1.67 ($NZ3.20) a bottle. Talk about coals to Newcastle . . . or something . . . I didn't even realise this beer is made with New Zealand hops (Nelson Sauvin) but, in the land of Guinness, it was a welcome taste (i.e. hop hit) of home.
Innis & Gunn Original
Mrs Pint of View came back from the supermarket in her old home town of Strabane armed with a couple of clear glass bottles of this Scottish brew. Barrel-aged, it's like rolling in a gentle surf of vanilla-buttered toast (if there's not such a thing as vanilla-buttered toast, there should be). Mellow, warm and extremely drinkable I picked up another bottle at the first possible chance while my brother-in-law was keen to scoff down the equally rich version conditioned in rum barrels.
Wells Banana Bread
With an extended family seated around a big dining table one Saturday night we ploughed our way through quite a line up of English, Scottish and Irish beers and this was by far the hit of the night. You can get banana flavours from the yeast used in Belgian wheat beers but this English brew uses real bananas to add an unbelievably good flavour to a bready malt offering. On the nose, the banana aroma is faint and barely hints at the flavour burst you get on drinking it. Stunning and fun.
Our trip home from Ireland featured a stopover in San Francisco - a city you just have to visit if you love great beer. After biking across the Golden Gate bridge on a hot and windy day we caught the ferry back from Sausalito to the city. I went to the boat's bar for a bottle of water but, when I saw the Lagunitas IPA, in the fridge I couldn't say no. Resplendent with that West Coast hoppiness that I love, it was the perfect refreshment at the end of the gorgeous day.
Ballast Point Victory at Sea imperial porter
Fresh vanilla, cold-brewed coffee, waves of chocolate malt. Thick as treacle, smooth as an oil slick, this is a decadent and divine syrup of heavenly concoction. There's so much flavour going on and luscious mouthfeel that you barely notice the 10 per cent alcohol, which laps away in the background. The perfect beer at the end of a night.
Sunday Star Times