I need to write about my time in Norwich last week. About a great beer fest made exponentially better by the great people I shared beers with.

In the meantime:


I know it's become shorthand for something of quality / of excellence / of the moment / on trend / of something marketed desperately.

I know I'm maybe guilty of using the word. Maybe. The bitch of living in a digital world? Google shines a light into the recesses where you forgot you posted.

I know this much. Beer is excitingly infuriating. You slip yourself into its Möbius strip and it captivates you. It blindsides you and turns tricks and appals you and disgusts you and delights you and excites you and makes you feel all warm and tingly.

But battling with a hangover, when needing space and separation, walking into somewhere that offers solace, finding a quiet place and looking up at craftmanship that is almost inconceivable in its intricacy...

Beer is beer.

But cathedrals? They are awesome.

They are the very definition.

Go and stare at a ceiling in one. Try to do nothing but stare for maybe ten minutes.

Think of how men had the skills and audacity and faith to make it work.

Think how it felt to be there maybe five hundred years ago. Think harder.

Think about building those walls. Assembling the stained glass. Having such vision.


Beer is beer.

It's many things.

But it isn't awesome.

Pictures don't really do the place justice. You know if there's a cathedral near you? Go. Eschew the tour. Just find a place to sit and... look up. Breathe out. It feels good. Trust me...


  1. Always pleased to read a post about language. This is one of those cases, I think, where 'awesome' has developed an entirely new meaning through usage. It isn't generally intended to mean anything more than 'really good and a bit unusual' when applied to, e.g., beer, burgers, cars, as far as I can tell.

    See also: 'epic'.

  2. I'm not a fan of cathedrals. Cold and miserable havens of god bothering.

  3. i like cathedrals as buildings. the architecture is stunning (awesome, even). but it pisses me off immensely that they are owned by a load of dress-wearing god-botherers, who pay no tax on buildings worth millions

    turn em all into brewpubs!

  4. Agree with the over use of 'Awesome'. Often used when the person seemingly just can't be bothered to think of anything else more suitable.

  5. Hi Simon.
    totally understand your point; but surely if someone deems something 'awesome' *genuinely*, is? Yes, it's probably overused, as are loads of terms, but popularity could be an indicator of the accessibility of the term? If person #1 goes to a bar, buys a beer because you've deemed it awesome, and then enjoys it, then surely it's served the purpose? ONe man's 'Awesome' is another's 'excellent', so to speak? If you're enthusiastic about it, then why not?

  6. I'm an atheist but agree that cathedrals are awesome, as are some particularly spectacular landscapes and the more sublime works of art. Very occassionally a beer creeps towards that category, like the three year old lambics I've tried at Boon, but perhaps closer to awesome are the bloody great barrels Frank makes them in.

    The bloke who showed me round the Anchor brewery in San Francisco the other week said everything was awesome. You're a beer writer? Awesome. You're from London? Awesome. You're staying in the Duboce Triangle? Awesome! He was a lovely guy and very helpful and knowledgeable but I did wish he'd vary his superlatives a bit. Seeing the barm on the big, shallow open fermenters used for steam beer did get a little close to awesome though.

    Some of you may know the Jopen brewery in Haarlem has turned a big church into a brewpub. Perhaps that's awesome. I'll have to go and look.

  7. "but it pisses me off immensely that they are owned by a load of dress-wearing god-botherers, who pay no tax on buildings worth millions"

    Worth millions, really? For the most part they cost a fortune to maintain, and certainly do not generate any profit. The only tax that could apply would be business rates, but that assumes a "rateable value" which as the buildings cost so much to maintain would be very debatable. You should be thankful that these god-botherers are around to maintain these awesome places or the government (i.e you and me) would have to stump up the cash to maintain them.

  8. they only 'don't generate any propif' precisely because they're used for god-bothering

    if they were used commercially they would be worth a fortune, indeed several churches have been converted to houses or flats and command a decent price/rent

    anyway, the church does make huge profits on which it pays no tax, and the clergy pay no tax on their income, that is all tax that should be paid to the treasury but is instead collected from me and you...

  9. I'll say it again: fear and surprise. Surprise and fear.

    I'm not willing to let language slide. Not into a vague platitude.

    As for taxation and the Church; the lack of insight and understanding of history here almost appals me.

    Des has nailed it. I've stood on knife-edge paths in the Scottish Highlands and the Cornish coast and has that shudder of surprise and fear.

    Beer? It doesn't do that to me. Not quite.