Tuesday 16 December 2014

Over a barrel

Export opinion: I think I have a
soft spot for this one
Brought to you by Mark van der Vord

As the marauding army of impending Christmas marches ever closer to the fortified town of Beer Advent Calendar towers, so does the alcoholic pawl ratchet up the pressure on the liver.

Take today, for example. Client entertainment at lunchtime (2.5 pints of Moor So’Hop), then a world of cack and conciliatory pints on the way home. It's done me in.

Luckily, this is the last of the full-on days before the wind down begins. There remains the thorny issue of the work Christmas party on Friday, but this year I’ve decided relative sobriety at that is the best option. In all honesty, I’m kind of fed up with drinking now. This happens every December; I reach a point when the last thing I want to do is drink anything, let alone beer.

And today, that moment has been reached. I yearn for an alcohol-free day. I’ve begun craving mornings when I feel fine. I long to look in the mirror and not see red, watery eyes staring back at me. The mineral water aisle of my local Sainsbury’s is looking ever more alluring with each passing day.

If this sounds like me complaining, I assure you it’s not. Rather I feel like I’ve got to a stage of my life when I’m starting to feel moderation is preferable to excess. Yes, it’s taken a while. But getting there at all is more important than how long it takes, right? This feels like real progress, especially since this time four years ago, when my marriage was breaking down, I was existing on a diet of calendar beers and Whisky Macs.

So for the remainder of this calendar, I’ll be tempering the intake and, hopefully, will be more capable of giving each beer a half-decent hearing. Whether or not that translates into more entertaining writing is anyone’s guess; my suspicion is it won’t.

But today, while the booze is seemingly still flowing and the creativity is gushing out of me like effluence from a ruptured slurry pit, I fortunately have a beer that’s genuinely worthy of attention. I haven’t had a bad beer from this brewery since I discovered them more than a year ago. I don’t think I’m about to start now.

Beer: Brew By Numbers Barrel Aged Export Stout
Strength: A particularly unwelcome 8.4%
Smell: Smells a fuck of a lot like my homebrewed stout. Thick with molasses, a hint of fermenting grapes and a suggestion of bad chocolate.
Tasting notes: Hahahahaha. This is the first beer I've ever had in all the time doing this calendar (and it's been a while) that has made me laugh immediately I've swallowed the first mouthful. And with every advancing year, I place more value on the ability to provoke mirth than practically any other quality. This is a big beer, no doubt, but so disarmingly hilarious you can't help but be prone to its charms. Dark, somewhat mysterious, but so joyously funny you'd gladly spend the rest of your days in its company without ever muttering any murmur of complaint. A real keeper of a beer.
Session factor: It's probably not all that wise to overdose on this; nevertheless it's one that makes you want it with every gorgeous sip. Both high and low and hugely confusing.
Arbitrary score: 21,114
Sponsor: Mark van der Vord

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