My latest Guardian column is on Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. After writing it, I noticed how similar the opening was to an old article from my former East Asian correspondent, Victor Crabbe. I wonder what happened to him. Anyway, it would seem that it was quite common to drink Foreign Extra Stout after a hard night on the town. You can compare the two articles below. I think Mr Crabbe’s is better. I should get him to write for World of Booze again.
One of the things I appreciate about living in Singapore is living somewhere foreign enough to make Guinness Foreign Extra. When I was a younger man, walking home in the small hours along the Kingsland Road, I would pause from time to time at various off-licences and fortify myself, needlessly, for the remainder of the journey with a dark malty bottle of the stuff: the fact of its availability seemed exotic, as if a case or two had somehow been abducted from its proper location of Nigeria or Jamaica. It seemed as cheeky as the shop owners’ attitudes to the licensing laws. It never occurred to me that the UK was somewhere that could be exported to just as well as more remote places, despite evidence to the contrary to be found in every shop and newsagent nearby.
When I moved to London about 15 years ago, I spent many lost weekends at warehouse parties in the East End. On my way home through the cold mornings, I would invariably stop at one of Hackney’s grocers to pick up a bottle of Guinness Foreign Extra Stout. I drank it for the alcohol – at over 7% it’s much stronger than normal Guinness – but it also provides some serious sustenance. It felt like an antidote to the rather louche life I was living at the time.
This always happened whenever I had a Guinness