Last week, we asked our social media audience for questions to ask beer expert and writer Mark Dredge – today, we are sharing his answers! 🍻
His book “The Beer Bucket List” is published on 13th August by Ryland Peters & Small – and there will be copies available at The Great British Beer Festival next month!
Q: Can you tell us a bit about how you got into the beer world?
A: My housemate at university loved real ale so he’d insist that we go to different pubs seeking out different beers. I didn’t even like beer at the time but the more I drank the more I came to enjoy it and my love of beer grew from there. A few years later I decided to start blogging about beers which meant I learnt loads more about beer, then I travelled more, I wrote more, and… Basically it started with a love of beer and of the stories and people that surround it and that’s still what inspires me today.
Q: What is your favourite beer?
A: Easy: Duvel. I love it.
Q: Do you have a favourite place to enjoy a nice brew?
A: There’s something special about drinking outside in the sun and for that you can’t beat the beer gardens in Munich and around Bavaria. They’re so friendly and fun.
Q: Tell us about the new edition of the Beer Bucket List!
A: I wrote the Beer Bucket List to be a book about the world’s essential beer experiences – the places to go and the things to do if you really love beer. The original version was a large hardback and the new version is pocket-sized so you can take it with you on drinking adventures. I had a lot of fun writing the book and it showed me just how interesting and varied the world of beer is.
Q: Can you tell us something hilarious that has happened in your beer-drinking adventures?
A: I once stayed at the Orval monastery and followed the monastic order of the day, which included shared meals in silence and several prayer sessions, but at night my mate and I ended up drinking a case of Orval and getting really drunk. Bleary eyed in the morning I almost fell in a large pond on the way to the 5am prayer session! It was an incredible experience to live (mostly) a monastic lifestyle and to attend the prayer sessions.
Q: Is there a beer you used to love but now no longer get excited by? If so, do you think it’s you that’s changed, or the beer?
A: Good question! I think there are probably many beers that I no longer enjoy like I used to. There are also many beers which I didn’t used to like but now love. I think that the more widely we drink, the more our tastes and preferences will change. For most ale drinkers they consider lager to just be bland, yellow and fizzy but that undermines an entire family of beers (it’s like thinking sandwiches are boring when you’ve only ever had a ham and cheese on sliced white from the petrol station). When I first started really enjoying different beers, I liked smooth and quite sweet stouts but now I mostly drink dry, bitter beers like IPA, Pilsner and Tripel.
Q: What is the strangest thing that you’ve drunk beer from?
A: Erm… That’s one of the strangest questions I’ve been asked. In thinking about the answer I seem to be fairly straight-up when it comes to drinking vessels. There’s been the occasional flagon, some tankards, a trophy, probably a vase or two, a coconut, but I don’t think there’s been anything veryunusual.
Q: Have you ever seen something in real life you thought would make a good pub sign?
A: I once saw a man in Vietnam on a scooter weaving at speed through the city and he had five kegs of beer strapped to his bike. That’d be a fun sign.
Q: Any tips on a great beer experience or beer/brewery to try in the South Scotland region this summer?
A: Yeah, go to Newcastle – there’s loads of great beer there!
Q: What’s the most interesting beer ‘trend’ you’ve seen in recent years?
A: I love the return to traditions. So many trends are looking for new things – new flavours, new ways to get more hops into a beer – but looking backwards or sideways to produce quality, interesting beers is way more fascinating to me. The best examples are the breweries using all locally-sourced ingredients, those brewing spontaneously-fermented beer, farmhouse-style beers, or making classic German-style lagers just like the Germans would.
Q: There has been a rise in interesting flavours in beer – what wacky flavour would you most like to see made?
A: I will answer this one in two parts. First: I once had a breakfast in Thailand which consisted of 16 different tropical fruits and I’d like a beer to be brewed with each of them in it, but specifically those fruits because I’ve never tasted more perfectly ripe fruit in my whole life. Second: I really hate wacky flavours in beer and think that the current trend for ‘pastry’ stouts and lactose is stupid! I think that brewers can make an incredible range of flavours with just grains, hops and yeast and I’m much more interested in classic beers than oddly flavoured ones.
Q: Without revealing too much about your book, what would you say was the #1 thing all beer lovers should have on their ‘beer bucket list’?
A: No Bucket List can be completed on the sofa, so I think that it should be to actually travel and go places. I’d say that the number one thing is a personal one and that you should go to drink your favourite beer in the brewery or near to where it’s made – you can’t beat that experience. Go to New England and drink IPA or go to Brussels and drink lambic. I do think that the one thing every beer lover should do is to go to Pilsen and visit Pilsner Urquell to drink the lager that’s still served out of the old brewery cellars. That’s an unbeatable beer experience for the actual environment and the history.
Join the Discourse
Want to discuss this article? Join in on Discourse