Tuesday, 29 December 2009
A man walks into a pub and orders a Beast
An afternoon glass in the Bridge. Given the seasonal nature of now, it’s Exmoor Beast at the pumps, a dark, sweetish West Country strong ’un — a pint of which I always enjoy at this time of the year. A couple come in, holiday cottagers I suspect, as keen as mustard, smiling at several locals (I’ve done that in the long ago past when still a London lout), she going for a glass of red, he taking a glance at the ales. ‘Exmoor Beast, a pint of, please,’ he says. Blimey, I think, I hope he knows what he’s getting himself into — he doesn’t look like the sort of bloke who gets into raptures at the thought of Moor’s JJJ or Odell’s St Lupulin’s, both strong variations on a theme, glasses of which I enjoyed yesterday evening while eating time over The Day of the Triffids. Observation over, return to chatting at the bar with Mysterious John, who claims time spent in the Special Forces (‘hush hush, dear boy,’ though I reckon those who serve keep schtum). As we chat about this and that, subjects coming and going like the women in The Love Song of J Arthur Prufrock, I note the man back at the bar, his pint glass a third drained. He points as Otter Ale (rather a good drop I always think), gets a taster, orders a pint and leaves the Beast at the bar. Blimey. I’ll have that I’m about to say to the lad behind the bar, but it’s down the drain like a flash. Whenever I bemoan the lack of strong ales at the bar (and I do, I certainly do), I shall think of this chap and recognise that selling barley wines and their ilk meets a natural obstacle — most pub men and women do not like their beer ramped up (though having said that, St Austell’s barley wine Smugglers went down a treat at Woods before Christmas, even if it caused several casualties in its wake, one of which was myself).
PS the picture features a glass of one of my favourite strong beers, Zywiec Porter, this example being discovered on draught in a small bar in Krakow, cor it was lovely.