July 25, 2008

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.