Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A voyage with a glass of beer

The Schlenkerla is in the glass, mahogany brown, burnished, as if it were an ancient piece of furniture polished with the patina of age and the hands of generations that have been before. And above, as if in a more frivolous contrast with the solemnity that the beer’s colour suggests, the foam is espresso white, taking me briefly to Milan, Leipzig or Zagreb, where I’ve had some of the best ever coffee. The assertive aroma of smoky bacon or maybe smoked herring lifts out of the glass, appetising, mouth-watering, muscular, earthbound. Even though I’ve yet to go to Bamberg I’m taken there with this expressive beer, and somehow I can imagine, visualise, through the words I’ve read and the photos I’ve seen, myself in a small tavern, the sound of the latch key click, the creak of the door, the solid dense wooden furniture and the anticipation of the beer that I actually have in front of me in a pub in Prague. Time to drink: the beer is smoky, leathery, chocolaty, smooth in the mouthfeel, bitter in the finish, chewy even, satisfying and for me one of my favourite beers. I know for some that it’s a challenge, but oddly enough I took to it immediately when first tasting it in the early 1990s, while on the other hand it took longer to get used to lambic. It’s a beer that, wherever I drink it, takes me on a voyage to places visited and yet to visit. I wonder where I will go when I eventually drink it in Bamberg.

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