As I sit here typing this, my nose is both blocked and streaming. I can barely hear anything. The raw, red marks around my nostrils are glowing so much they're putting dear old Rudolph to shame. My throat feels like it's been ripped out, dipped in kerosene, dragged over several car accidents' worth of broken windscreen and stuffed back in the wrong way round.
Then there's my poor eyes, squinting out of my puffed up face like bloodshot pissholes in the snow. Yep. I'm properly ill. And it's no coincidence, is it? It's December, of course, and the combination of cold, wet weather, late nights and general exhaustion brought on by the rush before Christmas means I've practically invited this virus round for the holiday season. Sure, make yourself at home, stick around, I'm not busy.
Now I like a good moan as much as any man, but what makes this particular illness doubly irksome is that it means I can barely pick out any subtle flavours in any of the beers I'm drinking. So from Sunday evening onwards, most of the assessments have been a combination of educated guesswork and previous experience, mixed in with a thin coating of Lockets for good measure.
Hardly the judgements of a refined palate, then. But never mind. Only a few more days left before I can hang up my bottle opener for at least another 11 months. Best get on with it. These beers won't drink themselves, will they?
Beer: Kernel Brewery Indian Brown Ale
Strength: A hopefully virus-defeating 7.4%
Colour: Brown. Really very dark brown. The darkest brown I've seen for a while.
Smell: You're kidding, right? At a push, I can just about smell some hops and yeast, the latter probably because I fucked up the pouring again.
Tasting notes: Again, it's remarkably difficult to comment when practically everything you use to detect flavour has been annihilated by this pesky disease. OK, it's not really a disease, but it bloody feels like it. I have, however, discovered that if you drink it fairly quickly, then burp a bit, you get a fairly big taste hit, so in the absence of any taste bud sensitivity, that'll have to do. It's sad, because I get the feeling this is a really lovely beer. I can't pick up much about the first gulp, but you do get a lovely, tart malty coating over your tongue as the taste subsides which, at the moment, is really pleasant and almost therapeutic. Yes, there's bitterness too, which is nice. Makes me feel like I'm drinking some kind of citrus fruit drink packed with vitamin C. Unfortunately, that's all I can give at the moment. What I will say is that I feel much better at the end of the glass than I did at the beginning.
Session factor: Not huge, but I wouldn't mind a few in one sitting given different circumstances.
Arbitrary score: 9.9