Maybe it’s all this apocalyptic talk of the hop shortage, or my own dire skintness, but I haven’t been drinking a lot of beer because it seems like a luxury. And I haven’t been writing about it.

Sure, I could drink cheap beer in cans but I have never liked it. I never drank beer until I tasted the nice stuff. I would start homebrewing so I could have something to drink, if I didn’t live in a little shoe box of a flat with an even smaller sink and a cat that sheds. A lot.

I’ve been slowly breaking into my stash. I open a beer after I finish a round of sending out cv’s. The last round was crowned with a bottle of Duchesse de Bourgogne, a Flemish Red I splurged on (at almost £4 for a small bottle at Whole Foods) when I was feeling rather flush. I had hoped the beer would cheer me but it was overly sweet. I ate it with some luxurious stilton and pear pate, a lovely gift from my friend Liza, but maybe that was the wrong food choice. Usually tannins and stilton go together. (For a better take on this beer, see The Hot Knives’ review, which remains my favourite beer review, like, ever.) Maybe it was just my palate that was messed up but I didn’t get the sour balance at all, and I kept thinking about the Duchesse falling from her horse while hunting with a falcon. I’d just had a birthday, the kind of birthday that makes one weary rather than gleeful, the kind of birthday that makes you think about the closed circuit of death.

Once I saw a falconer in Trafalgar Square and the bird took wing around Nelson’s column with a wild certainty. It was one of those slyly seductive moments London gives up too rarely. And in between those moments there is beer. Or there should be.

So, I have a beer hoard. Last night I was impatient for a glass half-full outlook, so I made some very garlicky pizza from scratch and cracked open a bottle of BrewDog’s Punk IPA which turned out to be the the hoppiest beer I’ve ever had.  One could almost say it was aggressively hopped, almost a hop tea left to steep at a slow seethe, except that it was most certainly a beer– a fruity, summery nose with a delightfully bright mouthfeel. I confess I don’t even know what colour it really was because I drank it straight out of the bottle. It seemed like the thing to do. Hours later my palate was still coated with resins. It was a beer with something to prove, not unlike the brewery itself.

Is it possible to crush out on a brewery? Yes.

The brewery sent this beer along with a bottle of the Anniversary Paradox, one of the most expensive beers in the world, which was a gift from Mr. Malting (he doesn’t share my pessimism about money or life which is part of why I love the guy.)

I thought I should save that bottle for some good news, but maybe beer is the good news.

8 Responses

  1. Is crushing out on something the same as having a crush on something?

  2. Duchesse is a beer that changes considerably with age. When young it can be quite sweet – age it for a year and you get a full-on sour Flemish red ale. Terriffic stuff, I think (but it’s probably not for everyone).

  3. Hi Boak– yes, though I associate crushing out to be a fan-girl like reaction and one that is maybe temporary. Or I’m just engaging in semantics so I don’t sound like I’m 12.

  4. Hi John– I did hang on to that beer for six months before drinking it, not to age it but through some weird hoarding behaviour. I had it in Portland and it was lovely and sour. Maybe that bottle was older. Good to know, though. Thanks.

  5. Hey there Purlygrrrl, you know there’s no excuse when it comes to homebrewing! Maybe it’s just the old homebrew shop proprietor coming out in me, but I’ll have none of that “my place is too small” stuff! And I’ve seen your place and it is small, but we can work with that. Next time you’re in L.A. I’m going to rope you into a “lesson” and hook you up with some size-appropriate gear to take back with you to “London Town”.

    As I write this drinking an eight month old marzen with a well-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano (it was the only cheese on hand). Kind of a weird combination but actually the austerity of the cheese goes well with the dry maltiness of the marzen. Not my first pairing choice but as C.J. used to say “Necessity is the mother of intention!”

  6. Hey Bob!

    I really want to try homebrewing. I think I just need someone to give me permission! Ha.

    I have a hardware store near me that has a lot of homebrew equipment and it looks pretty affordable. I’ll have to pick your brain.

    The biggest obstacle I think is my super tiny sink. You’ve seen the sink…what do you think?

  7. Punk IPA ROCKS. Oh wait, maybe it punks. Damn, I dunno.

    It’s the closest I’ve found to a California style IPA here in the UK. If you are ever over in California check out Bear Republic’s Racer 5, and Anderson Valley’s Hop Ottin. Deeeeelicious.

    I had Punk IPA on tap back in February at a Burn’s night held in the warehouse of a distillery in Speyside (Glen Moray to be exact.) It’s worth seeking out as a tap beer. I’ve seen it once on tap here in Edinburgh as a guest beer.

    The Brew Dog guys are super nice, you should take a trip up there and visit them.

    Great blog. Slainge!

  8. Hi Notacrime!

    I’ll most likely be back in Cali soonish so thanks for the recommendation.

    I’ve never seen a Brew Dog beer on tap– I’m jealous! Which pub in Edinburgh had it?

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