There it is in the glass, brisk and busy, but not too busy, with bubbles drifting to the top, ease in their ascension, an escalator upwards of carbonation and friskiness (a young pup perhaps, eager to play and gain approval); and above them, the place into which they merge and morph, the snow white collar of foam, a Table Mountain of ultimate achievement (can I be Reinhold Messner?).
And the colour of the beer in the glass (let us not forget the colour of the glass, or the non colour of the glass, a displacement of air, a physical presence that is not there but is)? Some would say the pale gold of a ring forged in an ancient mine high in the mysterious mountains of a long disappeared people’s legends. Or maybe it’s the sum of the egg yolk sun that inches itself, fingers tensed on the ledge of morning, gaining strength and confidence as it emerges into the day. Others will think of an heirloom — an old sideboard willed by a wilful great aunt, the burnish of dark chestnut on its surface, a gleam, but also the dream of childhood’s end. Then there is a beer that is stygian, the knife of night cutting into the soft underbelly of the day, pray please pay the ferryman for his work in transporting us into the dark where no stars fall and no moon rises. And let us in our reverie not forget the beer in the glass that is the colour of a piece of amber that emerged into the light of the world after spending millennia with an insect in its craw, and then by man’s hand was polished and perfected like some jewel in the crown.
So there is the beer, the beer in the glass, a sparkling ring of confidence surrounding and circling, an orbit of sensation, the bite of flavour on the palate, on the tongue and in the mouth; there it is, the thirst quenching draught of beer that covers all the sensory nodes that sit on the tongue, serious scholars in judgment, the Academy in congress about this work of art. The wash of sweetness, but not too sweet, a sweetness restrained, belt buckled in; the splash of fruit — tropical, citrus, soft, you decide, you judge — the crisp crunch of the malted barley’s influence, a ghost from the field where thousands of stalks swelled beneath the summer sun or shivered and sold themselves dearly when the fret rolled in from the north. The hop? There it is, the essence of fruit, as recalled above, but also the rasp of bitterness at the end of the throat, sometimes a stick rattling on a tin roof, other times, as pithy as a Wildean quote recovered, dusted down and thrown out into the sunlight. Then the beer is finished, Sahara dry perhaps, the return of a bounty of fruit, windfalls in the orchard, just brief, a glimpse, a flash (the green ray perhaps, glimpsed over the still ocean), before the beer vanishes into legend.
And if we really think about it; if we really let ourselves think about the beer that we have just drunk, the beer that we have fallen in love with, this is the beer that brings the chimes of midnight closer with every sip (or slurp if you must), and every beer we devour and fall in love with must bring us closer to heaven.