“As I walked, I got to thinkin,’ you ain’t never coming home.” ~ Jeffrey Lynne
I ventured over to the Boo on a flustered misty evening in search of a barrel-aged beverage I’d had a week or so before, but the bartender said she didn’t know what I was talking about since the taps changed constantly. So I enjoyed a coffee stout of some sort and pondered my next move. The whole point of this excursion was what used to be known as a nightcap but because I didn’t find my heart’s desire, I left my options open.
An unknown woman looked directly at me and her two companions and said, “Okay, let’s go.” And then she looked back at me, laughed and said, “Oh, no not you.”
“Why not?” I replied. “Where are we going?” But nothing came of it and I made my way to a cavernous lonely pool hall a few blocks away.
I climbed a barstool as a tall exceedingly mellow, almost too-calm bartender went about his business. “How was your day?” he smoothed. I thought about it for a minute.
“That’s a good question,” I replied. “I’m trying to remember what it was I accomplished.”
He was slow to respond. “Why accomplish anything at all?”
Whoa, I thought. And I suddenly became very comfortable in the space.
“What sort of IPA would you recommend after a coffee stout?” I asked.
He looked up slowly and regarded me with a measure of skepticism. Finally, he said, “The only IPA I would ever consider drinking is the American behind me. It has all the character but very little bitterness.”
Well, now I was skeptical.
“Do you want to try it?” he asked with a thin, wry, knowing smile.
“Sure,” I said. He set down a couple of swigs in flight glasses. One was First Kiss, said to be made with local wildflower honey that promises to leave the palate refreshed. Of that much, I’m certain. The other was likely Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin, but it’s all since become rather slippery in my mind.
The grapefruity hop flavor won out. It turned out to be a perfect fit. I worked on one for awhile and he returned and asked if I wanted another.
“No, thanks, I’m good.”
“Well, would you like to taste a sour?”
“I’ve only ever enjoyed one sour,” I said. “And getting to it wasn’t much fun.”
“Well, try this,” he said.
It was getting late. I knew I should be going but there were more than 20 taps behind him and, after all, his deep, contented, thoughtful behavior had led to surprising success with the IPA. It smelled a bit of lemon. I took a sip and my mouth moved so cleanly to the tart, fruity citrus of Sour Monkey that I was taken aback.
“That was a very good move!” I said.
He nodded knowingly as if hearing my words but staying deep in his own thoughts.
I realized then, that I was dealing with a French structuralist mixologist; one with near complete understanding of the inherent structural tendencies of the beer mind and the way it sorts, clusters and mediates inputs. He knew that if he paid close enough attention to me and my reactions, perhaps even reading microexpressions, he could lead me to the next beverage.
He was about to suggest another taste but was called away for a smoke break. And it’s a good thing because I was beginning to feel rather Kerouacian about it all, and who knows where that might have ended.
And then, just as I got up to go, an odd circumstance occurred. It might not sound remarkable to you, but it affected me very profoundly at the time. I saw on the row of taps, the very thing I could not remember but had set out to find in the first place.
Three Sheeps Cuvee Blend.