Roses are cliched
This rubbish must stop
We’d rather a bottle
Of malt, yeast and hop
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am probably the single least romantic person in the world. Sentiment simply isn’t my style. Even on my wedding day, while Mr Pip sobbed his way through our vows I was quietly daydreaming about the forthcoming rump cap steak and triple-cooked chips we were having for lunch. That’s just the way I roll.
So I am not a born romantic, but it’s more than that. I am also deeply irritated by stock “romance”, and Valentine’s Day has become one big feminist hell for me. It perpetuates tired gender stereotypes, the standard fare of chocolates, red roses, dinner reservations and champagne now perpetuating the myth of the useless, disorganised man and demanding, hysterical woman.
Last year, Mr Pip was berated by his colleagues at work when they found out he hadn’t got me flowers for Valentine’s Day. But I would see nothing to celebrate in his blindly following the pack of other dead-eyed partners as they all ran to Marks and Spencers on their lunchbreak in the hope of still being able to find some roses at the last minute.
I have often joked in the past that the most romantic gift Mr Pip has ever bought me was a printer. While this is representative of our distinctly unslushy relationship, there is some context here – I was in the middle of writing my Master’s thesis, already in emotional breakdown territory and was finally tipped over the edge when my geriatric printer packed in. He disappeared into town and turned up on my doorstep with new printer in tow. Forget your swashbuckling Byronic moustache-twirler; this was my hero right here, and he was packing Hewlett Packard.
This, I feel, is the crux of the matter. Romance should not be a pre-conceived formula of flowers + heart-shaped chocolates x bottle of Cava. By definition, romance is pimping out that special connection you have with your beau, showing your appreciation by doing something that shows how well you know them.
So what if you don’t like flowers? What if you’re not that fussed about champagne? What if, like any sensible person, you love nothing more than a delicious beer? Wouldn’t it mean so much more if your partner broke with tradition and gave you something a little more thoughtful?
With this in mind, we asked a few of ICIP’s beery friends what brews they would love to receive as an unconventional Valentine’s Day gift.
“I’d like a bottle of Liefman’s Kriek – with a champagne cork – to go with all the lovely chocolate I would undoubtedly receive at the same time! Oh, and a branded Liefman’s glass to pour it into.” – Annabel Smith, Beer Sommelier and Cask Marque Training Manager
“It would probably be something along the lines of one of the beer maps from Popchartlab as they are all really cool and it’s easy to forget that there is a big wide world of beer out there. Not really beer but that is one thing I am not short of!” – Nigel Owen, landlord of the best pub in London, The Queen’s Head
“I’d choose Marston’s Old Empire, a beautiful India Pale Ale recreated from original recipes from the 19th Century and at “proper” IPA strength at 5.7% ABV- and brewed long before the big hoppy IPAs started to come over from the USA. I’d also be very happy with a lovely bottle of Duvel. I first tasted it properly on a Beer Academy course on beer and food matching and have loved it ever since but at 8.5% ABV it’s not to be abused!” – Lisa Harlow, Beer PR Guru
“I think top of my list would be a mix of new and current British IPA style beers including Great Heck, Magic Rock, Ilkley, Weird Beard, Kirkstall, Thornbridge, Bristol Beer Factory… to name but a few! Far better and more fun that some flowers or chocolate. Could be dark or blonde but preferably a black IPA as I think this is a fabulous new beer category.” – Belinda Jennings, Master Brewer at Adnams
And what about ICIP ourselves? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Ideally, Pip would like a trolley dash around Utobeer in Borough Market. Failing that, she would accept a crate of Kill Your Darlings by Thornbridge, the full range by Norwegian brewers Nøgne ø, something by Brew By Numbers and a pint of Arbor Ales’ Tasmanian Devil.
D would like a delicious half of Siren’s Inflatable Cowboy Hat double IPA; a bottle of Beavertown’s Halloween brew, Stingy Jack; a Rodenbach Grand Cru; a super hoppy black IPA; a pint of Adnams‘ Ghost Ship by the sea in Southwold; an alka seltzer and two ibuprofen.