09 November 2009

Proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy

Believe it or believe it not I am not much of a drinker. In the halcyon days of my youth and/or early-to-mid twenties I might have been known to enjoy the occasional quaff but alas time and tide have been unkind to my constitution and as I can no longer, as they say, do the time, I no longer do the crime.

Long gone are the days when I could enjoy a well-earned pint after work, for now the experience is more likely to send me right to sleep within moments of the first drops hitting my blood stream. Throughout my career I have enjoyed and endured in equal measure many Company nights out, and as a responsible manager I instituted a rule upon myself, that if I was to drink with my team late into the evening I must show decisive leadership by ensuring that I was the first person into the office the next day, the message to my staff clearly being by all means eat, drink and be merry but do not let it interfere with your work the next day. This was a stupid, stupid rule, and I curse the day it ever sprung forth fully formed from my mind, for many was the morning that I sat slowly rocking back and forth in my chair at 8:15am hoping for a major catastrophe to befall the office just to ease my Dionysian pain, as over the course of the next two or three hours bounded in the rest of the department, fresh-faced and seemingly immune to the ravages of school-night folly, no doubt helped in great part by their average age being ten years my junior.

Youth, and livers, are most definitely wasted on the young.

Armed with the knowledge of my extreme light-weightedness, and coupled with the fact that as a rule* The Very Understanding Girlfriend and I do not drink at home and when I do it is normally whiskey**, it will no doubt come as something of a surprise to find that this morning I am raving about beer, or rather a specific beer, Fuller's Brewer's Reserve.

This is altogether a rather tasty ale. When I was not so much of a lightweight I was an ale drinker, and a pint of Smithwick's was a little bit of mass-produced heaven for me***. Smithwick's is the dishwater they feed Clydesdale horses to make Budweiser from their urine in comparison to this little gem. A dark, ruby ale, aged for 500 days in 30-year old single malt oak casks it is a warm and smoky beer, with a delicate hint of whisky infusing every sip. It is bottle-conditioned, meaning that fermentation continues in the bottle, allowing the beer to last a long, long time and improve with age; some can even be lain down like wine, though this is so tasty I can't see it lasting too long in my house. Bottle-conditioned beers also tend to be a bit stronger, with this one coming in at 7.7%. Simply one of the best drinks from a major brewery I have ever had, and a snip at €5.99 a bottle (roughly the same as a City-Centre pint), but unfortunately produced in very limited quantities. The off-license I bought them in only had a few bottles left and they won't be getting any more in when they're gone, and so the hunt begins.

If you do find a bottle I heartily recommend that you snap it up, but don't tell me that you have as it means one less bottle for me. Which would make me angry. And you wouldn't like me when I am angry.

Just ask anyone involved in the great Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk tragedy of 2003.

If you can find any survivors willing to talk.

* not an actual rule, more of an observation, a sad, sad observation.

** Since a fateful trip returning from Glastonbury in June 1999 on a ferry three days before duty free was abolished between the UK and Ireland where bottles of Midleton were being sold for less than half price. This also left me with unfortunately expensive tastes. We once resorted to making Irish coffees with 18-year old Glenfiddich because it was the worst whisky in the house. People cried.

*** When we moved to the US and I was unable to find Smithwick's, or its exported cousin Kilkenny, I used to wax lyrical abut it over unloved pints of local dishwater. On the eve of my 30th birthday, on our last night in Dublin before returning to the 'Have from our annual Christmas homecoming, I managed to find a single can of Smithwicks after searching through multiple Rathmines off-licenses. I carried it lovingly back to the US wrapped in layers of protective bundling and deposited it safely in my fridge to be enjoyed as a special birthday treat. On the night itself, after djing for a few hot and sweaty hours I went to retrieve it, the anticipation building to a fever point, only to find that someone at the party had opened it, decided they didn't like it after a single sip, and then turned it into an ashtray. I cried. I think this was preemptive karma for the Glenfiddich/Irish Coffee travesty. Curiously enough upon returning home and being able to avail of Smithwick's on tap at every licensed establishment it somewhat lost its gloss, for in truth it really isn't a very good beer. Manufactured scarcity made for artificially raised desire, somewhat like diamonds really.



At 3:06 pm, Anonymous steve said...

it was glastonbury 98. unless you went back the next year? i don't think you did...

At 3:48 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

we did indeed go back, somewhat foolishly, despite the mud, mud and more mud. I'm pretty sure I was there in 98, 99 and 2007 and have the mental scars to prove it.

At 4:09 pm, Anonymous steve said...

excuse me so. my memories of you from 98 are vivid. i also remember you buying the middleton.

At 5:08 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

hhhmn. Now you're making me doubt myself. I was there two years in a row, I missed Daft Punk in 97 so it was definitely 98 and 99. Duty-free was abolished between the UK and Ireland in June 1999, so I definitely bought a bottle that year. Mayhap I bought Midleton on both trips, but the less that's said about your vivid memories of Glasto, mud, and goat-herder trousers the better.

At 5:28 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

Steve - just gone through the photographic evidence and it would appear that you were there in both 1998 and 1999!

Victory is mine!

At 7:18 pm, Anonymous steve said...

oh i know for sure i was there in 98, 99 and 2000. but i remember you vividly from 98, and not so much from 99. and from what i remember of you in 98... it's quite funny that you went back for more in 99.

i'm sure you're right though. i can remember the journeys to glasto more clearly than the journeys back (funny that...).. and i know i travelled there in 99 a day later than all the rest of ye so eh.. yeah.


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