Sweet, Sweet Ale

So, basically, the off license (booze merchant for those not ‘in the know’ so to speak) round the corner has started stocking the 2006 vintage of what I consider to be one of the finest ales known to humanity: Dark Star Imperial Stout. This sweet nectar is produced by Dark Star, a local small scale brewery of nigh on legendary quality (very, very good ales). Anyway, this event calls for a celebration. Before I go to the pub to meet my friends I intend to conduct an experiment in beer enjoyment, by offering a real-time summary of my drinking experience (you’ll have to trust me on the real time aspect..I’m actually going to post it all in one go, think of it as more of a sip by sip description). Basically, I’m going to talk about the beer, while I drink it. For those who need details, the bottle is only 250ml, and shall be poured into my container of choice (a ceramic tankard gifted to me for my birthday by the wondrous and mysterious Lady E), then drunk, at the rate of my choosing. I will also give regular updates on what music I’m listening to (currently Plotinus by Squarepusher..very good) which will be supplied by my general purpose playlist, shuffled repeatedly and let to roll. If I’m not in the mood for the particular song, I shall skip to the next one, but I will inform you of the fact. Now that the rules are clear, I shall begin:

First off, I have to pour this beautiful drink, unfortunately, the two handed nature of this task means that I must take a break for this. Back in a second.

(just sniffing it once the bottles opened is a thrill, quite a meaty smell..almost like a fruit cake being cooked…this is good shit)

Ah yes, the baby is poured. Beautifully deep rich colour, the smell is slightly caustic, but only very slightly, very strong and very rich aroma. (Music has just changed to Ode to Scatman a little funky dance romp by Agent Mancuso, a friend of mine).

We take a break for the first sip, pray silence. (I’m gonna close my eyes on this one…just so you know).

Oh Lord.

That is good. The richness and depth is hard to really get across. There’s a very strong sweet flavour, that seems to be wrapped in a milder taste. The effect is of being mildly syrupy, but with a deep and rounded (almost beefy) undercurrent of fruit, only a bit heavier than that…like mince pies only better. (That last sentence also accurately describes the music that’s now come on Funky Acid Stuff by Luke Vibert).

Further sips will be accompanied by a brief summary of what we know about this beer. First off…the information on the side of the bottle ‘Imperial Stout is a truly special beer which harks back to the days when English brewers exported strong stouts and porters to the baltics. Brewed with a high proportion of roasted barley and target hops, this is a complex beer with a big flavour’. Seriously, you cannot underestimate how accurate that is. There’s alot of flavour in there..and its not just big but actually fucking huge.It’s been about three minutes since my last swig and still the taste lingers (a little nutty at this point, and still quite warming). For those of you for whom strength is all that matters, don’t worry, this little baby weighs in at 10.5%. A good place to start. Guinness this ain’t. Anyway, Radiohead are telling me to slow down (The Tourist) so I’m gonna kick back and enjoy the beer for a few minutes. See you in a minute.

Right now its making me wish I ate meat just so that I could soak some steak in this stuff and put it in a pie. That would be good.

Its so damn rich. Its like having a millionaire in your mouth..only its a beer and it tastes great.

About halfway through the drink and the lady sampled by the Venetian Snares is talking about pigeons being scary (Masokik Galamb). Great stuff, this playlist has served me well. With the fear of sounding like a bit of a lightweight, the beer itself is starting to take effect, to borrow the words of that bastard Legolas in one of those irritating scenes in the Lord of the Rings films where they added stuff to make Legolas cool while Gimli becomes a comic fall guy ‘my fingers are starting to tingle a little. as for the music…the strings and the drums are working beautifully. I recommend you try out the Venetian Snares album with all the Hungarian names, damn fine idea..breakcore beats and classical instrumentation. Awesome.

But anyway, we’re here for the beer, so lets get back to it.

As you may be able to tell, I’m not exactly a food and drink critic. I know what I like, and I like this a lot, but I can’t really get across what it actually tastes like. I mean, I can do ridiculous similies fairly easily: It’s like my taste buds are being tickled by someone very sexy who I like a lot and have been noticing around for age, but never quite had the guts to talk to, until tonight, when we finally spoke…and I’ll be honest with you..we weren’t speaking for long, before things got a bit physical. Yes…this beer is a lot like that. No, really.

So, I’m beginning to think this was a crap idea. But the beer still tastes good, and that restores my confidence. That’s what I like in a beer, one that stays with you even though you’re beginning to lose faith in it (and yourself). No, I don’t think beer is the answer to all your problems, in fact it can cause a hella lot of problems. But this beer is different. This beer will solve a lot of your problems..and it certainly won’t cause any trouble. In fact, this is the kind of beer you could take home to your parents, a polite beer (though strong and caring). Actually, I do plan on buying my Pa one for his birthday, bu don’t nobody tells him that.

Ooops, (how many Os are there in Oops?) I forgot to mention a few song changes. That 10.5% really makes the difference you know (hence the slipping into dialect, for those who noticed). Anyway, its now Gigantic by the Pixies…which works well for me, cause it means I can tell you the story about how I first heard this song. It was actually at my local watering hole back home, doing some underaged drinking (a fine British past-time if ever I heard of one), and my friends band were playing a cover. Anyway, this particular friend (Sir G), and his whole family, all of whom I know well, have a shared fixation with toilet humour. This meant that I wasn’t surprised when I feard him singing about ‘a big big log’. I laughed..I was amused. It was only later, when I heard the Pixies singing it and realised that Sir G never wrote the aforementioned song, that I realised the lyric was ‘a big big love’. Such an easy mistake to make. Anyway, now we’re listening to Spiritualised – Lord Let it Rain on Me. Good song..good band. Keep it up Mr Randomised Playlist.

Right. I just realised I’m heading for the last slug of ale. Which means its almost time to go. Don’t mourn for me, for I shall return with much more interesting posts. Probably tomorrow. Just out of interest, can anyone clarify for me whether WordPress (or anyone else) owns copyright on stuff I post. I only ask because I have a short story I want to post, and I’ve heard of people being dicked around online, don’t want it to happen to me.

Anyhow, the music’s picked We Didn’t start the Fire by Billy Joel for the track as I finish my ale. The last sip was a treat (as is the tune) and I can’t wait til I get another (but I doubt I’ll tell you about it unless a lot of you request more).

Thanks for your time. I hope you enjoyed. I know I did, but then…I was drinking a gorgeous stout for the duration. Drink more real ale. That’s what I say.

Incidentally, spelling and grammar has been left as is..jsut cause it seemed more ‘honestly’ real-time that way.


Pain, Gender, and Transformation in Comics

Just a quick link to a fantastic article elsewhere on the interweb about public and private pain in relation to gender and identity, particularly using comics as the focus. Really incredible article, Well written and waking me up to a few things I wasn’t aware of and hadn’t considered. It led on to a seriously long discussion between me and my significant, which can only be a good thing.


I’d just like to add that following my discussion with Alex in Wonderland, a new post has been made about the Sandman comic ‘A Game of You’, on the subjects we were discussing. It is another excellent article that explains the points I was trying to make in a much more detailed and well formed way than I could ever have managed.  A brilliant post, and also the first time I’ve been name-checked as the inspriation for something..so double yay. Seriously, have a look at this, it worth it.

Tying together threads