The Session: New Beer's Resolutions

2009 taught me that there's more to beer than malt, hops, water and yeast.

Place, time and company all played a pivotal role in my enjoyment (or not) of last year's beers.

Sometimes, everything came together in a serendipitous manner. Such as pints of Thornbridge Hopton enjoyed over a lazy Saturday lunch, sat outside in the sun at The Bear Inn, Alderwasley, with my wife. Lashings of Marble Dobber downed by the crew on the European Summer Gathering, out the back of Manchester's Marble Arch pub, with plenty of banter. A quiet pint of Brunswick Black Sabbath, supped by myself in the brewpub, a precious half an hour alone with my thoughts, a crossword and a great beer.

When it all went wrong, it was more often down to the place, time or company - not the beer. Pubs that had closed for the afternoon. Too many pubs on a crawl. Great beers rushed in order to move on to the next (underwhelming) pub. No-one around to share a great beer with.

My only regret is that it took me so long to understand just how important place, time and company are to beer enjoyment.

For me, 2010 is going to be more about the context and less about the beer. But only just less :-)