I was first introduced to the beauty that is Boddington’s about a year and a half ago, although I’m not sure where I was. Most certainly, it was a restaurant or a pub – note, not a bar. Either they had run out of Caffrey’s Irish Ale, my preferred drink at the time, or I was seeking an alternative to Guinness.
Despite the fact that its fight song touts that Guinness "…gives you strength" it requires, to me, a fairly right mood. The server, who seemed a little too flirty with me to be completely straight, had no problem being completely forthright in the matter of beer. I was assured that as the night was dark and the day not, so too would I enjoy a pint of Boddington’s. As it turns out, the bartender was quite correct in his assertion – it was a delicious beverage, and it continues to be one of my favorites to this day.
Brief History Lesson
Manchester, known for its controversy-stirring football team, is also well known for a couple of other things. Historically, according to the Boddington’s site, Manchester played a key role in England’s Industrial Revolution. Moreover, there was plenty of cotton to be had. But, as my grandmother surely once said, you can’t exactly drink cotton. Worry not – for Boddington’s also comes from dear Manchester. It has been nearly two hundred years since this wonderful little beer began production – I sadly must remind one and all that the corporation responsible for watered down swill with labels such as "Budweiser" and the like makes more beer per annum than the entire United Kingdom, all companies accounted for. Show some defiance – drink a good English beer!
Though a good pint of Boddington’s can be enjoyed in many a way, much akin to a certain peanut butter filled chocolate treat produced in the US, there are some ways which would appear to be superior to others, as it were. I have found ways to maximize the pleasure one can attain from this seemingly simple beverage.
Enjoying Boddington’s : An Introduction
The first part of enjoying a pint of Boddington’s is in the presentation. Ask the server to give you the can unopened, so you can pour it yourself. (This is only possible if they serve it by can and not "draught", i.e. from the tap – if it is from tap, you haven’t much choice in the matter unless you aren’t bothered by a possible career change… one I once considered…) Open the can, carefully as to not cause it to spray its contents all over your date and / or traveling companion. Traveling companions plus spilled English beer equals a less than cheerful traveling companion.
With the beer in one hand (your good hand, assuming you’re not ambidexterous) and a pint glass in the other (you should insist on a pint glass – this isn’t Kool-Aid, or, G-d forbid, Budweiser that you are drinking here.) Tilt the glass at a forty-five degree angle and keep it so while pouring at a consistent rate, up until the glass is three-quarters full. Bring the glass out of its tilt position slowly (some might call this "de-tilting" although I would argue that no such word exists) as you continue to pour until it is fully upright and full. Note that a pint of Boddington’s won’t successfully fit into a pint glass – this is due to the thick head of foam that you are soon to observe forming.
The Foam Head
The following two to three minutes are to be some of the most fun you will have in the world of beer drinking. This is because anticipation can be some of the most wonderous parts of an experience. One of my favorite parts of The Sentimental Education (a delightful novel by Gustave Flaubert which I strongly suggest one and all read – and if you’re fluent in French, try the original, i.e. French version) comes near the end, when Frederick is with his best friend and they talk about almost going to a brothel. The best part of the going was getting ready – putting on nice clothes, a fine wig, etc. The fact that they didn’t go in the end wasn’t important – the anticipation of the visit was more than enough for them. The moment you start to pour the Boddington’s, it appears off-milky white in color. As you finish pouring, the drink becomes a sort of column of this off milky white beauty, which begins to fade from the bottom and thicken up at the top. The head of foam thickens as it rises from the bottom. At the end, you have a thick head of foam on top of your lovely beverage – the Boddington’s. Verily, it is a thing of beauty to behold.
Alternative to Admiration
If you are not content just to watch your beer and conversation is either non-existent or anywhere less than Proustian in nature, you can play a little game known as the What Is Everyone Else Drinking? game. Spot a bottle, can, or glass, identify it, and then think about the likelihood of your ordering that drink if you were to not have your pint in front of you. Rum and coke? Not a bad choice. It becomes akin to watching the people walk by on the red carpet with their drinks – you are the judge and jury, the Joan Rivers with daughter passing judgment on each individual’s drink. This is your catwalk, so don’t let any knock-off Armani imitation flood your market. Being that you are the contestant with the Boddington’s and you are the judge (somewhat biased) you are most likely to win – unlike the fellow with the can of Busch Light, who will be exiled forevermore to a small island with spotted dogs, a trio of frogs, a pair of lizards, and a cardboard cutout of an attractive woman pretending to care about the septic tank drink.
The contest / game ends inevitably because the two or three minutes (which seem like an eternity) are over and the time comes to drink the beer. Yet this is precisely the time to tarry a little bit longer! Especially if you are of the Jewish faith, because you have the shehakol blessing to make over your beer before drinking it, assuming you didn’t have any other items that would have fit under that category. If it is Monday, people of a certain faith are well advised to send back their hamburgers and apologize politely. The last bit of advice I can give regarding drinking a Boddington’s is to enjoy it slowly. Not, I repeat, not to gulp it all down as if you just came out of the Sahara. If you like it that much and you can handle it, you can always order another one. But then, maybe your next one will be an Old Speckled Hen instead.
Boddington’s is but one of the many beers a person can reasonably well enjoy in the comfort of their own home or in a pub / restaurant atmosphere. There is no need to settle for cheap watered down beer when you can be without fear – and have a good pint of Boddington’s. Drink responsibly.