Monday April 6th 2020 – my 40th birthday!
Monday was a day I had been dreading since time immemorial. The idea of turning 40, of not just being older (although I get hung up enough about that), but of being old has habitually filled me with terror. I haven’t achieved enough with my life. I don’t want to not be young. I’m too vain to look decrepit! When the moment actually arrived, amazingly all the angst just seemed to melt away. Being in isolation may not have made me consciously re-evaluate what’s important, but it has definitely opened up my capacity for joy and broken down a lot of my mental barriers about what I should be doing and being. In that way, being contained is actually proving remarkably freeing for me. I found myself uncharacteristically present in the moment, so happy to share the day with my brilliant friends and family over multiple video chats – thanks to all of you! – and having a wonderful time eating, drinking and dancing around with JB in our garden. We had delicious treats all day – crackin local barbecue, elk dumplings from the Russian House, miniature-pudding delights from Tiny Pies and of course so many fantastic beers that it was hard to choose which ones to write about! I genuinely could not have been happier. This wasn’t the birthday I’d imagined, it was so much better.
Prairie Artisan Imperial Stout Aged in Apple Brandy Barrels
My first Big Beer of the day and I was so excited to get stuck into this. We purchased this little bottle of paradise just over a year ago when visiting the Prairie mothership with the intention of opening it on my 39th, but were so busy going out and doing things (back in the real world), that the moment passed. In retrospect this was happily serendipitous, as what a fabulous brew to be opening for the big 40! This was the very last beer from our brilliant, crazy month-long road trip up and down the country and opening it today felt really special. This was everything you would expect from Prairie, the sumptuous richness of their signature Stout potently infused with full warm, spicy mulled apple. Sweet but not too heavy, boozy but worryingly drinkable, this sets a ridiculously high standard for apple brandy beers, but also shows off just how successfully they can be done. Boom!
Oddside Ales Rye Hipster Brunch Stout
I am a little bit obsessed with this beer. Of course I am, it is brewed with actual bacon! Oddside have been my brewery-de-jour since they started distributing in Texas, and I have been blown away by their consistent high quality and innovative edge over a range of styles. As soon as I heard about the Oddside Bacon Beer I made it my mission to seek it out, and our first taste of it, in the bar at Whole Foods in San Antonio, visited specifically for this purpose, was a moment of such intense excitement! This beer is very different from a Schlenkerla-style smoked bacon beer but equally delicious – the smooth, mapley rye-malt stout holds the meaty bacon flavour in a firm but subtle grip, perfectly complemented by the boozy whisky finish. Part snack, part cocktail, all incredible.
Ingenious Brewing Rum BA Bananas Foster
This beer-to-die-for was a gift from our lovely friends Johan and Suyapa, and as soon as I saw it I knew I had to save it for today, however much I just wanted to dive straight into it! This was the perfect beer to finish my birthday with, although the 13.8% did, in fact, finish me off and leave me fast asleep in my party dress – oops! Ingenious are, as I have said before, the masters of the dessert-beer, and this one really is cake and icing all in one. The stunning, intense banana-rum flavour is just so damn moreish that I was completely unable to restrain myself from constant sipping, and the generously-sized bottle vanished much faster than it probably should have. The density and texture of the chewy mashed banana could have made it too heavy to drink quickly, but Ingenious have worked their customary magic to retain the intensity of the flavour while keeping the beer scary-drinkable – an absolutely magnificent effort. This was such a special treat to end a truly brilliant day.