“What’s that beer?” He asks, while he sips his lager.
“How long have you got?” I ask.
“It’s a special beer, a blend of two brews with a few extra things added,” I begin; his brow faintly wrinkles wondering how many ‘things’ can possibly be added. “One beer is called Military Intelligence. It’s an oxymoron because it’s a Black India Pale Ale. It’s a fashionable style at the moment, essentially a dark beer brewed with loads of American hops, which are really fruity and bitter – you can’t mistake them, here have a smell.” I push the beer under his nose. He sniffs, not realising that a beer could ever smell like this – an intense, punchy citrus. “It’s full bodied, rich but not overly chocolatey or coffee-tasting, which many beers like this can be. It’s sweet first, it coats your tongue and then it’s really citrusy and bitter at the end.” He’s nodding. I continue: “This beer,” I raise the jug we’re drinking from to acknowledge, “also has a beer called Black Spot blended into it. It’s a best bitter brewed by a guy who won a homebrewing competition. He brewed it out there,” I point to the brewery opposite us. “Once blended, the brewer added oak chips and more hops. He used a variety of hops called Citra, that’s what gives off the amazing lemon, grapefruit and dried lime aroma and by adding them at the end you get the full aromatic effect. The oak chips add a faint vanilla hint but it’s kind of hidden beneath the hops, which are pretty confrontational.” He’s still nodding. “There aren’t many beers like this in the UK. Not many at all.”
“Right.” He says as I pass him a glass and fill it half way.
“Plus it’s special because only we are drinking it and no one else – it’s a one-off.”
“Right. It’s interesting, isn’t it.” He says, lifting the glass and sipping cautiously. His eyes widen as an explosion rocks his tastebuds in a way they’ve never been rocked before. I leave him, staring into the dark depth of the glass in his hand. He finishes it through slightly-gritted teeth (the bitterness feeling like it’s eating his tongue, no doubt) and then goes back to his lager.
A couple of hours later I see him return from the bar with a jug of the dark beer.
The beer was Ruby, Makin’ Bacon, a special put together by Saints and Sinners at Brew Wharf for Lee and Ruby, two good friends of mine, who were celebrating their engagement. I only asked for a pump clip so I did pretty well – we were happy to be the experimental white mice for the night! It's also got me thinking... as I got engaged last month, perhaps I should get a special beer brewed for myself!!