image courtesy of The Telegraph
I had the pleasure of writing one of the most enjoyable film music related articles I've ever penned for the Alamo Drafthouse's new print magazine titled Birth.Movies.Death. The theme for the issue is "pub life" in celebration of Edgar Wright's latest release, The World's End.
For this issue, I wanted to interview well-known film composers and chat with them about their favorite drinks, beer brands, cocktails, vintages, watering holes, and anything else related to the wonderful world of alcohol. The response I received was fantastic.
However, there was one particular composer who stood out from the rest. What he sent me ventured far beyond the simple interview questions I had originally sent him. It was a heartfelt soliloquy extolling the virtues of beer and the passion of one of its greatest champions. I was almost moved to tears.
It felt woefully wrong of me to truncate his essay or extract passages for the benefit of my article, so I wanted to publish every word intact here on Badass Digest.
My name is Clint Mansell and I love beer. I grew up in a small town called Stourbridge. It's about 100 miles northwest of London in the heart of Black Country — an industrial area between the cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton. It gets its name, allegedly, from the local foundries and coal mines that filled the air with thick dark smog during the Industrial Revolution. The dialect of the Black Country is unique. It has resisted change over the centuries and is said to be the nearest we have to Old English. So instead of hammer you would hear 'ommer and horse would be 'oss.
Chain and nail-makers were prevalent through the area. The anchor for the RMS Titanic was made in the Black Country. Also, the Stourbridge Lion — the first steam-engine used in America. At the height of the industrial boom, in the late 19th century and continuing through both world wars, the Black Country was booming. The radiating heat of the foundries forced the workers to start their shifts at 4am and work till late morning in order to avoid the heat of the day.
There is another great Black Country product that came to many chain workers...thirsty aid-BEER! We are blessed in the Black Country to have some of the finest beers made in England today. Bathams, Holden's, and Enville Ales are all amazing brews and are, for the most part, unavailable elsewhere in England, let alone anywhere else in the world. This isn't due to some elitist snobbery, in fact, quite the reverse.
The beer in the Black Country is amongst the smoothest, the most flavorful, and most refreshing beer made today. I can't say what the beer tasted like for those overheated foundry workers all those years ago. Maybe modern practices have brought a greater consistency to the yield, but in essence, the beer hasn't changed in hundreds of years. And neither should it! It's nectar! A gift from the Gods!
My favorite pub when I'm back in Stourbridge is a small, well-run establishment called Robin Hood on Collis Street on the edge of Stourbridge & Brierley Hill. They serve Bathams, Holden's and Enville Ales along side many guest ales that change weekly. Standard practice would be to pick a beer and stay with it all night; however, at the Robin, the beers are so well cared for that it would be an insult to ones taste buds not to experience different flavours throughout the course of an evenings drinking.
To my taste, Bathams has the most rounded flavour: full, smooth, extremely tasty without being overbearing. Strong in content, but a serious session might leave you a little groggy the next day. As these are real ales, there are no chemicals that will leave you with violent headaches fostered by the commercial brews of modern times.
Holden's has been a long time favourite of mine. Back in my PWEI (Pop Will Eat Itself) days, we frequented a pub called the Shubbery Cottage that served amazing Holden's and was quite the beer-du-jour! They do a bitter, a special, the Glow, and a Christmas ale that they make for — yes, you guessed it — Christmas. They also make a beer dedicated to the singer from Slade (70's terrace-anthemed glam rockers from Wolverhampton who had numerous hits including Cum On Feel the Noize and Merry Xmas Everybody). His name is Noddy Holder so the beer was named Noddy Holden's!
Enville Ales are a lighter, flowery brew. Honey and ginger are amongst the natural flavours that they use and it gives a lovely, light, summery vibe. It's almost rude not to drink it! All these beers are brewed locally. Bathams is brewed in Brierley Hill at the Delph. So when we drink it at the Robin Hood, it's about a mile away from where it was brewed! You can't get fresher than that!
As I currently live in Los Angeles, I only get to appreciate these fine ales on visits home which is about three or four times a year. So what do I do in Los Angeles for quality beer?
There's a liquor store in Los Feliz called Cap'n Cork that has a phenomenal selection of bottled beer. There are beers from the UK, Belgium, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, as well as a huge selection of American craft beers. From the available UK stock, I enjoy Hen's Tooth and Old Speckled Hen. From the Belgian beers, Orval is the pick of the bunch. My favourite American beer is Abita brewed in Abita Springs, Louisiana. I first drank it when I lived in New Orleans. Excellent beer! The Amber ale is a smooth tasty beer with none of the bitterness that comes from a lot of US brews. The Purple Haze is a raspberry flavoured ale that is fantastic on a summer's day.
Making great beer is an art form and drinking great beer is akin to seeing 2001: A Space Odyssey on the big screen with an amazing sound system.v These are the things that make life worth living.