Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. And as a critic I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended. Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Monday, January 27, 2020

Lost Breweries: K is for Kitchen

I was all set to write about King & Barnes of Horsham.

After all, this was one of the biggish names to disappear from the brewing map when, in 2000, it was taken over by Hall & Woodhouse and closed, bringing an end to almost 200 years of brewing there.

Until the 1990s K&B Sussex really was considered one of The classic English bitters, though I could never really see the appeal, having only caught the back end of it, and I've been distinctly underwhelmed by the revived 'WJ King' brewery.

But that's about all I'd ever really have to say on the subject of King & Barnes, and that being the case - and I appreciate that this may be heretical to the ears of traditionalists - it's probably better all round if I use my letter 'K' to honour, instead, the Kitchen brewery.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Platinum Pints: BV's best beers of the 2010s

This year hasn't started well. I've consumed more pints of Lemsip than of beer, and wallowed in so much self pity and so little alcohol that I might as well be doing Dry Fucking January.

But it's not just a new year, it's a whole new decade... or is it?!?

There's a compelling mathematical case that 2020 is actually the last year of the 2010s and therefore the new decade won't commence until January 1, 2021. The problem is that if you accept that logic then you also have to believe that the Millennium didn't begin until 2001.

And that is an argument I had a problem with at the time, because going from 1999 to 2000 felt like an absolutely massive psychological shift, whereas 2000 to 2001 was a teensy little incremental feather that you'd barely notice. And given that time is ultimately an abstract concept, measured against fairly arbitrary starting points, the psychological effect - the way we feel about it - is arguably the only thing that matters.

So, there's my working out in the margins of the page. 2000 was the start of the new millennium, and therefore 2020 is indeed the start of the new decade, like it or not.

Which all means I can now pick my 10 favourite beers of the 2010s. Or, more specifically, of the 6850 new-to-me cask beers, because that's how I do these things. That's a lot of beer records to trawl through. But let's Lemsip up, open the spreadsheet and get the fuck on with it...

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Golden Pints: BV's best beers of 2019

Another year has ended and a new one just begun. Forgive me if I'm unenthusiastic - 2019 was a generalised pigfuck of a year for reasons I shan't bore you with. (And, yes, I know I haven't blogged anywhere near as much, anywhere near as eloquently or anywhere near as entertainingly as I should. Sorry about that.)

Will 2020 be any better? Is there any Hope left in Pandora's old box? Well there's The Hope - my current Pub of the Year, of course, and there will always be beer. I wasn't even particularly positive about beer last year, such was the depths of my mood, but looking at it objectively, it was a good year for beer.

I ticked 736 new cask beers during the year, which has put me within a couple of hundred of reaching the mystical 10,000 figure. This was the most I'd managed in a year since 2014, and 23 of them managed to score 8/9 on the BV Beer scale.

2019 was notably cask-centric. I drank so little kegged, bottled or canned beer during the year to dish out any awards for that this time around, but here, in no particularly order, are my favourite six cask beers of 2019: