Yup, on Thursday night I enjoyed a bottle of beer that cost me over £1500.
I’m thinking it was karma. As you can see from recent posts, I was having a very good week. Then, it just got better. A review for Hops & Glory in the Times Literary Supplement (sorry – it’s not online) dubbed me “The beer drinker’s Bill Bryson”, an accolade I’ve been not-so-secretly coveting for years because it would look very good on the front cover of the H&G paperback and probably increase its sales.
I was told about the review while en route to Leeds for a reading event in Borders. Before the gig, I visited Zak Avery‘s fantastic shop, Beer Ritz in Headingley. We had a great chat, and I found beers I thought I would never see again, and beers I’d never seen before, and walked out of the shop £65 lighter, a very happy man indeed. And as if things couldn’t get any better, I then realised my oldest mate from uni was on his way to Leeds to watch the Headingley test with his dad. I phoned him, arranged to meet up, and he offered me a ticket to come to the test match with them.
OK, things were getting just a little too nauseatingly perfect.
The reading went well. Sold a few copies. Met a couple of good guys. Later, back in my hotel room, I decided to have a bedtime beer while writing up a few notes.
This is something I’ve done almost every day of my life for at least the last seven years. I have perfectly normal motor skills – I wasn’t brilliant at sport at school, but neither am I noted for being particularly clumsy. So it came as a total shock when, after placing my beer carefully on its coaster, while bringing my hand back to the keyboard I clipped the top of the glass and neatly poured about 250ml of beer into my pretty damn new (last November) MacBook Pro.
The weird thing is – two days before, Mrs PBBB had done exactly the same thing to a different MacBook Pro with a cup of coffee. She phoned the Mac technician she uses and he told her to turn off the power immediately, turn it upside down and rest it on something absorbent. She did. That MacBook now works fine, albeit with slightly sticky keys. I remembered this, and immediately did the same.
But before he told her to do this, he asked one very important question: did the coffee have sugar in it? The circuitry could cope fine with water, but sugar was fatal.
And so we come to the beer in question.
Thornbridge Alliance PX Reserve 2007 is an 11% barley wine brewed at Thornbridge in collaboration with Garrett Oliver. Brew Day was 18 hours long because they had to do two mashes to get the gravity up high enough, and the fermentation was explosive. After brewing, this particular bottle was aged in vintage sherry casks for a year. As far as I knew, it was no longer on sale anywhere, and then, there it was on Zak’s shelf. I gladly paid my £7 for a bottle, knowing I would probably never have the opportunity to do so again.
This was a very expensive, very rare beer. It was also a beer with a very high level of residual sugar contributing to its wonderfully rich, mellow, complex, flavour.
I guess at least my MacBook Pro died in style.
The next morning that wonderful residual sugar had gummed up my circuitry and turned my laptop – my fifth limb, my life, my career, my window on the world – into a frozen, dead piece of beautiful brushed aluminium. I’m told I can probably get the info off my hard drive so if anyone is reading this to whom I owe work, I should be back online in a day or two. But I’m writing this on my new MacBook Pro, bought yesterday. It brings the true cost of my bottle of Thornbridge Alliance PX Reserve to £1632.
And of course, England’s performance on the first day of the test completed the restoration of karmic balance in the universe after what had been an absurdly good week.
From now on, I’m writing tasting notes by hand at the kitchen table, and typing them up later.
Remember – always drink responsibly.