During the latter part of his enormously successful career, the late Michael Jackson, beer writer extraordinaire, employed an assistant named Owen Barstow.Like Michael, Owen was London based and beer fixated, which on one memorable occasion led to he and I enjoying a rollicking discussion about drinking on each of our respective sides of the Atlantic.
Ever the aspirating colonial, I would maintain that Owen lived in a relative beer nirvana, with a wealth of pubs and, providing you chose carefully, terrific cask-conditioned best bitters, ESBs, porters, and stronger beers at his doorstep. Conversely, he would envy the variety we had available in North America, from American-style pale ales to Belgian lambics, German and German-inspired lagers, and the best of British bottled beers.
While I still envied London’s pub scene, I could see Owen’s point. I mean, cask ales are great and all, but sometimes you crave a bit of variety. And in London around the turn of the millennium, that wasn’t something generally on offer at the local pub.
(Read more at The Growler.)