Missing the obvious?

Last week I was lucky enough to have a family holiday on the Isle of Wight. While it was snowing back home in Staffordshire I was a mere 200 miles away, in the same country, paddling in the sea. While there I enjoyed plenty of local produce, not least a stunning meal at the pub in the village where I stayed and locally caught fish bought and cooked within hours. But it was a visit to a supermarket that made one of the most thought-provoking moments for me.  I’d already had ample opportunity to sample the local ales from bottle and cask and while none of it set the world alight it was all perfectly fine, and I continued to seek out different brews from the island’s three brewers. But an enforced trip to one of the larger supermarkets yielded nothing new in the local beers. Actually there was nothing local at all, from a major store on an island of 150 square miles that is home to three breweries. In fact the most appealing bottled ale was from, of all places, back home in Staffordshire!  Beer that, if at home, I’d have shunned in favour of something (arguably) more interesting from further afield.
And that is exactly the point that made me think again about my whole approach to buying beer. I go out seeking new and interesting beer from around the country and the world, and sometimes bemoan the lack of adventurous retailers in my own vicinity. But I go a relatively short way across the country and it is the local beer I’m seeking out. And enjoying for what it is. Even more bizarrely I’m all for my locally-grown vegetables and locally-reared meat at home, but don’t apply the same logic to my beer-buying.
I clearly need to apply the “holiday mentality” even when at home and make sure I am fully familiar with what my local breweries have to offer. Does it mean I’m going to stop buying exciting beer from around the world? No, of course not. But it does mean I’m going to be a bit more careful about overlooking the beers that are quite literally on my doorstep.

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