… because believe us, beer ain’t beer. But don’t feel bad if you thought it was. We did too. Until our new manager Andy Acker arrived.
See, Inez had just finished up an afternoon whittling the testicles off guinea-fowl, and had slipped out to the picnic table, having spotted a shard of sunshine refracted through a giant icicle dangling like the Sword of Damocles from the roof. On her way, she grabs a beer and shouts for Andy to join her. Which, shortly thereafter, he does:
Inez: Hey, I think Spring might actually be here …
Andy: What’s that?
Andy: I said, what’s that? (He points to can of Narragansett on the table)
Inez: Umm … it’s a beer.
Andy: Hmm. Domestic lager. So soon after the vernal equinox?
Inez: Oh, er … I dunno, is it? (smiles) They’re all the same, right?
Andy: May I? (gestures towards it. She nods. He picks it up by his fingertips. Holds it aloft against the sun. Presses it to his cheek, closes his eyes, emits a low hum. Finally, wafting his fingers like a thrush’s wing over the opening, takes a long sniff followed by several staccato snifflets. Silence)
Inez: You okay?
Andy: Oxidized. Because you drank the first third rapidly, the remaining liquid has reacted with pocketed air within the vessel, throwing off the pH and initiating the first stages of a reverse Haber process.
Andy: Whereby the surface of the lager is gradually becoming low molarity aluminium hydroxide in solution. Leave this can in the sun for fifteen years and you’ll be drinking bauxite.
Andy: Would you like me to titrate you an IPA?
Remember when beer was just the short and glittering road to being shit-arsed? The longer the road, the shittier the arse? When a word like ale was as snort-inducing as mead, flagon or i’faith, draw me a tankard of sack, buxom serving wench? The provenance of short, pudgy hermaphrodites who dressed in plastic armour to beat each other with nerf-swords in fields outside Leicester? Or pockmarked university drama lecturers playing the celtic drum in Wiltshire pubs, singing about bonny shoals of herring with fingers in their ears? Well not any more. These days an otherwise unretarded-seeming Williamsburger in his thirties will barely blush when referring to beer by its mouthfeel or quaffability: behaviour which (in days of yore) would have got you a firm dart in the middle of the forehead, if not a golden baptism down the toilet-bowl in the Gents whilst involuntarily munching on a slice of moist urinal cake. Being a hophead meant somebody was actually hopping up and down on your head. In the car park. Amongst the discarded rubber johnnies.
Not at Table on Ten though, by golly! There’s no prophylactics in our car park. Hell, we don’t even have a car park!
But we do have beer, and we also have Andy – our new Virgil, fated to lead us by the sweaty paw through the labyrinth of the Craft Beer Inferno. Where all names begin with DOG or end in WHALE. And where half a gallon of last-summer’s paddling-pool water, fermented up a cow’s uterus with a handful of Polish zlotys and stirred with a limp celery stick constitutes a fine idea for an after-hours Spring brewski.
First up in the artisanal small-batch wet t-shirt contest: Southern Tier ‘Nu Skool’ IPA, from Lakewood NY, a short ambulance ride from Buffalo.
This one is characterized by middle-school spelling, bringing to mind notes of sweaty snowboard boot, overnight-wetsuit-in-the-trunk-of-mom’s-Subaru and jockstrap. Originally in the category of awesome, it soon became rad before settling into lit with shades of amazeballs. The perfect beer if you’re planning on free-climbing the pizza oven, base-jumping from the garbage cans or wingsuiting over to Sal’s for a breakfast sandwich. Have two or three. Go cray-cray.
Burial Beer Billows Hoppy Kölsch out of Asheville, NC.
This one combines heavy alliteration (Bradley burnished Bobby’s biggest bollock) with implied European exotica, crowned with an umlaut. Kölsch was apparently a serious mover-and-shaker in the Dusseldorf bondage scene; combined with the name Burial, we’re looking at some serious goth undertones here. Sleeve-tattoos, ear-gauges and two semesters at SUNY Oneonta. For more insight, look no further than Burial’s own product description: ‘it is our smoke signal to all brewers, our brethren in craft, and all who enjoy a light quaffable ale with hearty aroma: this is your beer.’ Yes, they said brethren in craft and quaffable ale. Two tugs on the nipplering-o-meter …
Von Trapp Vienna Lager comes yodeling down the Vermont berghang in tight lederhosen, honking its alpenhorn with eidelweiss in its underpants.
No, you’re not hearing voices from your secret show-tunes days. That’s von Trapp, as in Maria von Trapp. As in Captain von Trapp, seven children and a mess of funny Nazis. Yup. This one features high-notes of raindrops on roses with back-end whiskers on kittens. Four Vienna’s shotgunned in succession will make you lay-ee-odl-lay-ee-odl-lay-hee-hoo like Julie Andrews getting a Jägermeister enema high on a hill from a lonely goatherd; the aftereffects of which include brown paper packages tied up with string and a dream that will need all the love you can give every day of your life for as long as you live.
That’s it. Our first litter of craft beer triplets, all meanly wrapped in swaddling bands. They’re here now, gurgling away in a refrigerated manger, awaiting the plump ministrations of your immaculate nipples. Come on down to Bloomville and express yourselves.