Sunday, 22 December 2013

Adverse amber

AA rescue: less a soothing pint,
more cattarh catharsis
Blummen heck, there are only three of these beers left. Which is exactly how many days I've been feeling like I've been gargling neat lighter fuel washed down with a cocktail of hydrochloric acid over crushed broken glass. Then being garotted with a length of rusty barbed wire. 

Yes, still ill; still complaining about it. I'm doubtless in the same position as many others out there whose immune system switches off towards Christmas, allowing whatever hybrid virus is flying around to make a cosy home in their bodies. I personally blame the proximity to other people necessitated by commuting on London's 'great-for-its-age' tube system, but there are clearly countless other reasons.

The old me would have insisted this was just typical of my luck. That some malign influence has got it in for me and wants me to have a particularly shit time while all others are enjoying themselves. But I've come a long way in a year and am more than convinced that's a load of horse manure.

Some time ago, way back in the early days of my freshly imposed singledom, a friend trotted out a cliché - admittedly a new one on me - that went along the lines of 'for an arrow to go forward, it first has to be pulled backwards'. Although granted it was put more poetically than that. And I appreciated the sentiment (while kind of hoping I didn't really have to go backwards all that far). But at the time it seemed like yet another platitude doled out to make me feel marginally better about my circumstance.

This year has shown me how it can have some relevance - or at the very least that you can view things in that way. I've had a fair few setbacks this year, but for seemingly no real reason, I'm now in a much better place than I was at its outset.

Even today, when approaching what I see as the wall that marks the boundary between London and 'the country' - or Westerham Hill as it's better known - I initially became frustrated at the cars ahead being 'a bit slow'. This is less down to the latent boy racer in me and more due to the fact if I don't get a really good run-up to that hill in my clapped-out jalopy, I'm forced to go into at least second gear before the top. Instead of getting annoyed, I just slowed down. Waited till the cars ahead were out of sight, then got the gas down as required to get me up the hill. I wouldn't have done that a year ago. This is genuine, recognisable progress.

As is this year's calendar. Looks like for the first time ever, I'm going to stay true to the one-a-day ethos. I think this is partly because I haven't compiled it and I feel a sense of duty, but a lot of it is down to the fact I haven't been out (or stayed in) on the sauce so badly I've been unable to drink even one bottle the next day. More steps forward. This is good.

But what's better is that, after a weekend of mainly feeling a bit grim, I now have what appears to be a nice, manageable ale to douse the gullet fire and fade into Sunday night. Right now that's particularly welcome.

Beer: American Amber
Strength: A perfectly acceptable 5.8%
Smell: Hoppily goodness out of the bottle and like a Christmas cake marzipan out of the glass.
Tasting notes: Really not what I should be having with this throat of mine, but boy is it a whopper. There's very little I don't like about this beer and that's a surprise given I'm usually fairly ambivalent about amber ales. It rasps from the off like an over-revved combine harvester in a cornfield, spraying fragments of flavour about willy nilly as it tracks its course across the tongue. And straight down the neck, never once letting up and fizzing its way down as would a dose of drain-clearing sodium hydroxide. In my current state, it's actually hurting a bit, but I wager I'd love this if I were operating closer to 100 per cent.
Session factor: Devilishly high. Like prodding an aching tooth with your tongue, no matter how much it smarts, you can't help but carry on.
Gut reaction: I fear clearage. Best stick the bog roll in the freezer.

Actual beer: Wiper And True Amber Ale In The Pines. I'm glad I liked this. And a mere 5.3% according to the label.

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