First Beer Experiences – Rachael Smith

Rach Smith is the founder/editor of UK beer blog Look at Brew which is a platform for the celebration of great beer. She can often be seen flying the flag for Sussex beers & pubs.

When did you have your first taste of beer?

It must've been in my early teens I think, taking a sip from a pint of my dad's bitter whilst out for a meal or a sip of a French stubbie following an afternoon of gardening in the summer. Hobgoblin was the first beer I really tasted properly though and after dabbling with lagers it offered a different characteristic which I liked.

What was your impression of beer before then?

It was just another drink really. I didn't have any distinctive thoughts about it, pubs were only frequented as a family for a meal as an occasional treat but I was aware of lagers, Guinness and British pale ales/bitters.

What was your reaction to that first sip?

I can't remember not liking beer! I think from the moment I tried it I liked It; I enjoyed bitter shandies at home and dads French stubbies. Discovering Hobgoblin had a more malty profile which I liked encouraged me to explore the rest of the supermarket beer aisle and cask in pubs when I turned eighteen, although anything hoppier than Dark Star Hophead was too much for me at first. I wasn't too keen on Belgian or sour brews at first either!

How have your thoughts about beer changed since then?

I've got used to hoppier beers, the yeast profile of Belgian beers and I like sours too! I suppose that's down to being so much more aware of the process of brewing, what makes a good beer and the sheer scale of the range that's available; there really is a beer for everyone's tastes. Also, whilst I'm still aware that it's just a drink I am so much more passionate about it now.

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

I'd probably ask them what they usually drink; if they prefer a sweeter drink then a Lindemans Fruit beer would be ideal, likewise a white wine drinker might like a Geuze Boon a l'Ancienne, but generally I'd say UK craft lagers are a good starting point to explore.

Mike Hampshire