First Beer Experiences – Anthony Gladman


Anthony Gladman is a freelance beer writer and consultant, and is training with the Institute of Brewers and Distillers to become an accredited Beer Sommelier. His passion for beer is rooted in his love of exploring flavour and seeking out new tasting experiences. He believes beer is at its best when we drink it together. You can find him online at or follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @agladman.

Anthony is also our chief South London Local Champion!

When did you have your first taste of beer?

Like a fair few people, my first ever sip of beer was when I was far too young and served mainly to amuse the adults in the room. I remember we were visiting my grandparents; I must have been about seven or eight years old. I was growing bored by the adults’ conversation and my grandpa called me over to try a taste of his beer.

What was your impression of beer before then?

I knew it was something that grown-ups liked, and I knew it could make people drunk sometimes, which for me vaguely equated to acting silly or funny. I don’t think I thought about it much more than that.

What was your reaction to that first sip?

I remember a mix of trepidation and excitement. There was this dark brown, thin liquid in what seemed to me like an enormous and heavy dimpled glass jug. There wasn’t much of it left so I had to lift the glass up and really tip it to get at the beer, which I could smell already, and the taste was… awful! Warm, slightly sticky, and so bitter! How could anyone like this stuff?

How have your thoughts about beer changed since then?

I don’t remember when exactly but at some point I was deemed old enough to have the odd beer with a weekend lunch at home – small green bottles of French supermarket beer, these would have been – and beer became something enjoyable. Later on came my first forays into the pub, and while others seemed intent on sinking pints in a speedy and cost-efficient manner my instincts were always more aligned with drinking less but better. I realise now, looking back, that what always drove me was flavour. This was back in the 90s though, so finding good quality flavour-driven beers wasn’t as easy as it is now.

What beer would you recommend to someone who wants to try it for the first time, and why?

It’s always best to find out what someone likes and go from there. Most first-time drinkers will probably prefer beers with lower bitterness, and paler beers are a bit more accessible than darker ones. Beavertown Neck Oil is a great gateway craft beer, as is Fourpure Shapeshifter. German beers are classics for a reason, try a Paulaner Hefe-weissbier for its beguiling banana-and-clove yeast character.

Mike Hampshire