First Beer Experiences – Rebecca Pate

Rebecca (Bex) has been living in London since 2006 and based in Stratford, East London, since 2013. Turned on to craft beer in the early days of The Horseshoe pub in Hampstead – when Camden Town Brewery operated out of the basement, she’s had an insatiable appetite for interesting styles ever since.

After spending enough time in taprooms across London and meeting other passionate drinkers, she began writing about her experiences on her blog, Brewing East.

When did you have your first taste of beer

I’m interpreting this question as my first taste of craft beer, mostly because I can’t pinpoint my very first taste of beer (and I used to help my dad homebrew as a child, so it was likely very early!). I drank a lot of Alexander Keith’s IPA when I was a university student in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which – despite the moniker – is more of a pale ale. I went years thinking that I only passively enjoyed beer until I had a revolutionary sip of Magic Rock’s Salty Kiss gose. Then I really understood the spectrum of beer styles.

What was your impression of beer before then?

Lager, lager, lager…Living in the UK over the past decade usually meant drinking bland lager in the pub (and I would often opt for a gin or wine). 

What was your reaction to that first sip?

Salty Kiss is a really accessible gose (and I recognise that now, but still love the beer!), but at the time, it really surprised and excited my palate. Its beautiful tartness on a humid evening was like magic and it was the most interesting and refreshing beer that I experienced up until that point in time.

How have your thoughts about beer changed since then?

I’m much more adventurous and have a more in-depth understanding of beer styles, which makes it much easier to understand what I’m looking for in a particular beer. Of course, that doesn’t mean that my expectations are always met, as brewers are increasingly eager to surprise drinkers! I’m becoming more interested in pairing beer with food as well, which makes the prospect of something like a cheeseboard even more thrilling.

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

Salty Kiss is still a stunner and has been a gateway beer for many, so why not start there? Otherwise, most of Beavertown’s range is a good starting point for hoppy beers, although I still find that Gamma Ray can still be too aggressive for some palates, so their Neck Oil, a session IPA, is a good introduction. A clean and crisp lager is an easy sell too, so why not go for one of the best with Augustiner Helles?

Mike Hampshire