A smallish offering this Sunday evening.
A sample, if you will.
We are at Cascade Barrel House, a brewpub whose claim to fame is that they make sour beer.
I have no idea what a “sour beer” might entail, but it sounds horrible, so I scan the beer menu for an IPA.
There is a single IPA. I order a pint of that.
Mark reads through the list of sour beer offerings and asks the waitress if she has any recommendations. She recommends two beers, and he asks for a sample of each. As she writes this information down, he explains, “So I’ll just taste those samples, and then I’ll decide what beer I want to order.”
I lean across the table, “So what you’re saying is that you are going to sample the samples, and then actually maybe order a beer? I bet she is way delighted to have you lay out your course of action like that.”
Mark doesn’t look up from the beer menu, “Hush.”
I lean back, “Yes sir. This way? No surprises. No . . . Oh my god, what is that man doing? Ack! IS HE SAMPLING THE SAMPLES? Do you think he might order a regular-sized beer?”
Mark settles into his seat, “You’re an ass sometimes.”
We chat about nothing in particular for a few moments, and then our beers arrive.
My IPA is nothing special. Drinkable, but boring. Too much rye for me.
I like hops.
Mark’s two samples are fruity jewel-toned.
Beer should not be fruity jewel-toned, people.
Mark asks me if I want to taste them, and I hesitantly pick up the one that looks more like actual beer . . .
A cloudy yellow-orange liquid.
I take a sip and literally gag.
How to describe?
OK, let’s suppose that a glass of wine is spilled and the bartender heads over to wipe up the mess with a rag. He then uses that same rag to sop up a small bourbon spill in another part of the bar. He inadvertently leaves the rag on the bar overnight and it grows rank with the passage of time. The next day, it smells so bad that the bartender dumps a bottle of lemon juice over the rag, hoping to cut the stench.
He gingerly picks up the rag to transport it to the laundry, but on his way?
He suddenly has a break with reality and curls up on the floor in the fetal position, sucking on the rag for comfort.
Yes . . . that’s what it tastes like.
I gag some more and laugh, “Oh, babe. That is horrific.”
I reach for his second sample, which is a dark purple-toned beer.
I take the tiniest of sips.
It tastes like vomit.
I am not even kidding.
Mark is tentatively sipping now, “OK, I taste blueberries . . . but like a big pile of blueberries that have fallen to the ground and been left to ferment and rot in the sun. It’s not that bad.”
I am gulping down my own beer, which suddenly tastes spectacular in comparison, “It only tastes like rancid blueberries if you imagine that you have eaten a pile of those rancid blueberries and then vomited from the horror of what you have eaten.”
Mark is stubborn and keeps sipping at his two samples, but I know he hates them, because with every teeny sip he takes, his whole face recoils in an involuntary expression of disgust.
I continue, “Yes, as if you ate and then vomited up rancid blueberries and then thought to yourself . . . That was fucking awesome! I so want to taste that again! And then you re-drank your own rancid blueberry vomit.”
Mark tries to divert attention from the fact that he is not drinking his samples by holding first the purple one and then the orange one up to the light, “Look how the light shines through the beer!”
I take a drink of my beer, “Know what else would look all gorgeous in the light? A sample of my urine. Yup, it would be beautiful, but guess what?”
Mark sets the samples down and looks at me, “What?”
“Not going to be drinking a urine sample, no matter how prettily it might catch the light.”
The waitress comes back.
Mark thinks maybe he has had enough of sour beer, and he will have the IPA.
So we sit there and drink our non-sour beers.
Everyone around us seems to be quite pleased with their sour drinks, by the way.
And then I hear a man say this . . .
“There is just nothing like a toasty-hot sour cherry beer with a slice of orange.”
He was right.
There is nothing like a toasty-hot sour cherry beer with a slice of orange.
NOR SHOULD THERE BE.