Wednesday 22 December 2010
Blogging can feel like a pretty solitary pursuit, especially when you craft something you think is sure to provoke comment, only to see it wash blithely by like a stray twig caught in a current.
And there's seemingly no real pattern to it either. One day can be barren while the next brings forth a volley of feedback that fair knocks you off your feet. There's really very little you feel you can do to influence it, short of being deliberately provocative, and even then there's no guarantee.
What drives this need for feedback and the apparent reticence of people to give it? Something I've made a real point of doing this year is telling people when I think they're great, whether it be due to a live performance, something they've written or even just how they are. Not once has this been unwelcome, I think, although on occasion there has been some reluctance to accept my praise. So why do we feel so awkward about giving and receiving it? Is it a British thing or is everyone as useless as us at it?
I rarely waste my praise on people who don't measure up to my arbitrary standards and, as a result, I often think they must be used to hearing it. Yet I'm frequently faced by people who demure from the fulsomeness and try to do down their own efforts. Sweet, and quite remarkable, but it doesn't really help matters.
Well, we're not like that here at the Beer Advent Calendar, I can tell you. We drink in praise like it's a freshly tapped barrel of our favourite ale.
Good, then, that in the past week, two respected commentators have seen fit to big up the calendar. The editor-in-chief of a well-known consumer magazine declared his love for the blog and asked if I had any interest in writing about bikes (another passion of mine). Not sure how clear I was about how much I would be interested, but if you're reading: I am.
Then today, out of nowhere, the guy who runs Kernel Brewery tweeted that this is his favourite beer review site. Coming from one of London's, if not the country's, most interesting artisan brewers, this is extremely welcome.
I was genuinely taken aback by both bits of feedback, but reckon I've the good grace to accept it in the manner in which it's meant. And brag about it, of course. Well, why not?
And in an amazing piece of serendipity, next out of the calendar (admittedly substituted on Saturday for another that I'd already drunk - I know, cheating, but what are you going to do?) is Kernel's very own colossus of a beer, the Imperial Stout.
People overuse the word awesome, but at 12.5%, this really does inspire fear.
Strength: A truly worrying 12.5 bastard %
Colour: Blacker than my current mood. With a fearsome brown head.
Smell: Eight week old cottage cheese and dying embers
Circumstance: Back end of an awkward relationship conversation that isn't the first and doubtless won't be the last. What better frame of mind, then?
Tasting notes: The way it gloops out of the bottle has me wishing I'd bought something else. Tarry, thick sludge almost folds itself out of the neck and splots down into the glass. As you bring the glass to your lips, I swear you can hear the noise of an engine running smoothly thanks to this liquid and the first sip brings a giant flaming redwood of flavour lumbering down on to your tongue. It's cackling flames burn their way through your helpless tastebuds and the salty, charring, spitting sparks bite down like an army of dogfish threshing away at their quarry. Then burly fire-fighters slosh their hoses of dousing, foamy spray willy-nilly for a mind-meltingly imperceptible period before the angry flames bicker out their last dying flickers. Eerie calm descends like the settling ash of a once fiery passionate embrace that's now done.
Drinkability: Forget wine. Really. This is just as strong and I've never had a sensation like it from any bottle, cheap or ludicrously expensive. Utterly incredible and with the kind of character you'd quite happily spend an entire Trans-Siberian Express journey with.
Gut reaction: Not sure about that. The thickness would tend to lend itself towards a steadying influence, but given this the equivalent of drinking three pints of Guinness condensed into 330ml, I wouldn't go giving a chance to anyone unfortunate enough to be sharing my bed this evening.
Session factor: Stupid question.
Arbitrary score: 9.5