First Beer Experiences – James Beeson

James Beeson is a journalist who specialises in writing about food and drink, and the British
Guild of Beer Writers' Young Beer Writer of the Year for 2017.

He is currently working as a reporter for The Morning Advertiser. He runs his own website, Beeson on Beer, and also writes on a freelance basis for a number of publications including The Independent, Good Beer Hunting, Ferment Magazine, Belgian Beer & Food Magazine and The Brewers Journal.

When did you have your first taste of beer?

I have to be honest and say I can’t actually remember. I was probably drinking mainstream
lager from about the age of 13 or 14, but my first experience of real ale would have been a
pint of Timothy Taylor’s Landlord in my dad’s local when I was around 16. The bartender
and my old man had a mutual understanding that I was allowed to drink in the pub, but only
if I was having cask beer.

What was your impression of beer before then?

I’d like to say I loved it from the get go, but honestly I imagine I was probably only drinking it
because it made me feel very mature and adult being in the pub.

What was your reaction to that first sip?

As I say, it’s a fair few years ago now, but I imagine I probably grimaced and pretended to
enjoy it. One of the biggest barriers to getting into beer is that our taste buds aren’t
programmed to enjoy bitterness, particularly at a young age.

How have your thoughts about beer changed since then?

Obviously beer is now completely central to my life, and I can’t imagine a week without it. I
think I got into drinking at a really good time, but now the sheer range of options available
to entry-level consumers is amazing. There’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker.

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

That depends entirely on that person’s preferences. Beavertown Neck Oil is a superb entry
level beer that will appeal to a wide range of tastes. If you’re looking for something a bit
more complex then I’d suggest Saison Dupont. It’s the beer that got me into beer, and a
great reset button for the palate no matter the occasion.

Mike Hampshire