I can’t get over the fashion here in Australia for cold drinks. And when I say cold, I really mean cold! My wife will buy an almost freezing glass of white wine in a pub and she will then add ice cubes to it – can you believe that? Beer too is drunk as cold as it can be prepared and even the glasses are stored in the freezer, so that they have a coating of ice on them before a drink is even added. The same thing applies to the tap used to deliver draught beer, a column of stainless steel with a T branch at the top, from which sprout four or five individual beer taps, I feel I hardly need say it, but that unit is usually also covered in a thick layer of ice.
It’s not just alcoholic drinks either; go into any supermarket, stationers shop, milk bar, even some hairdressers, and there, in the corner will be the ubiquitous drinks fridge, a massive thing that accepts money and throws out cans of Coke, Pepsi and all manner of other soft drinks, once again so cold the can freezes onto your hand, while the machine hums away to itself like a train just about to pull out of the station! In some establishments, where the fridge hasnt been so carefully looked after, or is due for renewable, it can be quite difficult to talk over it.
Although the sales of all this flavoured and often alcoholised fluid drop somewhat during the winter months, they certainly don’t close down completely. Conditions in the bar are exactly the same whatever time of year it is, the reverse cycle air conditioner sees to it that conditions dont change from season to season, it is always – well – pleasantly warm in there, just right for an ice cold amber liquid or Chardonnay.
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Maybe I’m different to other people, but I always think this habit spoils the drinks! They just have no flavour at all, especially after the first few gulps, when your taste-buds have also frozen to match the drink passing over them. You might just as well suck ice cubes for all the satisfaction you get from these drinks; beer, wine or soft-drinks, even fruit juices, it’s almost impossible to detect any difference between them.
And this is where we come to the nub of my argument! Im sure a lot of readers will be aware of the fact that I was a pom until about twenty-seven years ago (just go to the end of this article, all the information is there, for all to see), and I am accustomed to what Aussies keep calling warm English beer. Well I can assure you, if you havent actually tried it, nothing could be farther from the truth. Rather than being refrigerated, English beer is kept in a cool cellar and pumped up to the bar for consumption, as required. This means the drinker can enjoy the full taste subtleties provided by malted barley and hops, fermented to perfection and bursting with flavour, as well as quenching any size of thirst! Every English pub also sells the frigid stuff Australians are accustomed to; most of them stock such favourites as Fosters and XXXX, to keep the Austrailophiles happy, but no real beer drinker would touch it. Compared to the snack flavor of these lagers, living English beer is a feast, a feast to be mulled over, swirled about the mouth, like a good wine, and swallowed with a sense of gratitude that something so wonderful exists!
Yes, Aussie beers have their place in the order of things, to cool you when you’re hot, or to quench a thirst after a hard days work, but when it comes to an evening of sheer pleasure, spent with like-minded friends, there is just no contest, English beer wins, hands down. Anyway, thats my opinion and I have a perfect right to it!
What do you think about the ice debate? Do you love your drinks cold? Does ice water down your drinks or don’t you mind? Tell us in the comments!