|Manc heavens: a north-western sour |
fit for the Shakespearean gods
Violent sneezing. Hacking cough. Nose running fleet and fitfully as a fleeing Thomson’s gazelle. A general sense of unease; worry even. Bad-tempered clouds and a wind that whips the lingering vestiges of sleep straight out of your streaming eyes. Late trains. The kind of mithering melancholy only several years of perpetual solitude can provoke. An overwhelming sense of impending loss. Doom AND gloom.
Why, it can only mean one thing: the first day of the Beer Advent Calendar. Regular readers will recognise this unenthusiastic beginning. My annual dipping of the toe into dipsomania is usually greeted – by me at least – with a good degree of, well, fear, quite frankly. It’s a daunting task and one I’m sure not many people appreciate. Drinking a beer a day is one thing; it’s quite another to write 500+ words a day about it as well.
But this year, more than ever, I’ve found it genuinely difficult to muster up the gusto for what has been an admittedly diverting project over the years. This will be Beer Advent Calendar number 10 and the eighth I’ve posted on this blog.
In the beginning, it was just a few words on a now-defunct internet forum. It was easy. A swift ale followed by some hastily thrown-together tasting notes was all it really required. The whole thing kind of fell into place, almost by accident.
Kicking off the blog meant a bit more work, but nothing overly onerous. A picture or two, some more words of introduction, but it was an enjoyable hobby after all, so no real hardship.
As time has passed and the beer scene has developed into something quite out of step with that which existed at the outset, the blog has become increasingly an organ for me to sound off about my woes or otherwise rather than about the beer itself. I’m not entirely certain whether that’s still working for me or anyone else.
And this year, a tipping point has been reached. Now, every commercial beer retailer or brewery with an enthusiastic if perhaps unoriginal marketing bone in its body has jumped aboard the beery bandwagon and started flogging their own versions of Beer Advent Calendars. They’re everywhere. Some sellers have even had the gall to urge customers to ‘accept no imitations’. Oh the irony.
So it feels like the whole thing has run its course. Not only that, it seems as if the true meaning of Christmas has been lost. I don’t know whether I’ll do this again. As the Rolling Stones once sang, this could be the last time.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, eh? Still the small matter of 24 beers to get through. Christmas starts here.
Beer: Chorlton Citra Sour
Strength: An unexpectedly formidable 5.7%
Smell: Lemon-tinged pine fronds nestling delicately amid a bed of freshly fallen snow.
Tasting notes: So much like burnt Marmite I have to give it another taste to make sure. On second sipping, it's more of a tart rhubarb crumble laced with laid-down gooseberries, the juices of which have caramelised and bubbled through the crummy, biscuity topping due to slight over-cooking. Ah, nothing a good dose of custard couldn't fix. But that nostalgia-ridden revelry is snatched away by a spiteful, snarling teenager gleefully pouring table salt on to the slithering slug of your tongue. One who watches on, mouth agape and grin widening, as every semblance of moisture is leeched out by the sodium chloride avalanche he (and it's obiously a he, and wanton at that) has visited upon you. But in a good way.
Session factor: Quite high, actually. It's the drinking equivalent of a chain reaction. You drink, you become thirsty, you drink more, repeat al finale.
Arbitrary score: 18,215