‘Tis better to give than to receive, apparently.
Aye, well, whatever your thoughts on that, giving a gift to someone you’ve never met before requires some seriously uncomfortable social media creeping.
I’d volunteered along with 43 others to take part in a UK/Ireland Twitter exchange called #BeerySecretSanta. Organised by Newcastle upon Tyne’s Myles Lambert, who’s part of the SippinForecast podcast from that area, our names were put in a hat and drawn in the usual Secret Santa way (I’m assuming). One rule – the only gift to be given had to be beer.
I believe I was one of only two participants from the island of Ireland so whoever I was paired with (as long as it wasn’t the other Irish person), they were definitely getting an Irish beer. The draw was made and an email received from Myles. I was paired with Daisy, a respected beer aficionado (also from Newcastle upon Tyne), “Governor of @craftbeerncl, Bar Marketing Ninja and National Social Media Coordinator for Tryanuary”. No pressure then.
So began the online espionage, which led me to believe Daisy liked sours. A lot.
A quick trip to that Aladdin’s cave of wonders, The Vineyard, on Belfast’s Ormeau Road where it had four popular Irish sours on offer. Lacada‘s Oonagh’s Secret, Kinnegar‘s apple sour Olan’s Tart, The White Hag‘s lemon and lime sour The Púca and YellowBelly‘s passionfruit sour Castaway.
Lacada’s sour is in a bottle so that was ruled out as I have more faith in a can arriving safely… which left apple, lemon and lime or passion fruit? It really was an eeny meeny miney mo moment and YellowBelly won the game.
Packed off to England it was, to be opened on the night of the 23rd December when we’d all use the #BeerySecretSanta howling call on Twitter. Going through the hashtag on the night revealed some outstanding beers sent by extremely generous folk.
Belgium’s De Struise Brewery, Gigantic from USA, Fuller’s 2015 Vintage Ale as well as the Imperial Stout from London, Harbour from Cornwall, Wild Beer from Somerset. The list was long and impressive. I began to feel inadequate. Here were folk sending 10%+ ABV beasts and I sent a 4.2% sour. Then I came to my senses. Who cares? Daisy seemed to like sours, decision justified.
The package that landed at my door was later found out to be from Paul in London who provided me with a beer that thankfully I’d not had before. Three Threads, a 7.8% ABV collaboration 660ml porter involving Marble from Manchester, Burning Sky near Brighton and Hawkshead from the Lake District area. It’s a complex beer, wild yeast provides a saison-esque quality but it’s still deep and fruity. Imagine a Christmas pudding version of Kinnegar’s Phunk Noir and you’re on the right lines. A really tasty beer and if you have an spare one keep it for a year or so to see how it matures over time.
Congrats to Myles for organising it all. #BeerySecretSanta is a great experience and one I highly recommend again for 2019. You hope your recipient enjoys the beer you’ve chosen while eagerly anticipating something new and different landing on your own doorstep.
But it’s about more than beer. It’s about connecting with people and wanting to please a similarly minded someone at Christmas time. I’ve never met Daisy from Newcastle or Paul from London but if I do, at least there’s an obvious conversation starter.
Over a beer of course.