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This is very much my blog, so don't be surprised if this doesn't follow accepted patterns and norms. It is a place where I can be anonymous and honest, and I appreciate that.

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Sunday, 22 June 2014

Beer Review whilst Parenting

It's the middle of marking Hell and, as is my wont, I shall add to the chaos by taking breaks and looking after the Boy. Who is currently babbling about long trains being even longer and not making the people talk. Apparently being outside makes him too tired. Yes, although this is a beer review, it's also about parenting.

Who'd have thought.

Still, 'tis a lovely day and I fancied myself some beer as I shan't be off Boy-duty until quite late this evening and so any lightweighted-ness on my part won't affect the chances of any of the students that I shall mark later on this evening. It's time for another edition of beer in my garden with our special guest star: Point Pale Ale. It's a curiously strong Statesian ale from Steven's Point Brewery in Wisconsin.

I'll be honest here, I wasn't expecting much. My experience of American beers has been poor and, from what I've read in other places, most ales that end up being broadcast aren't all that hjot. Too much Budweiser and a belief that lager is beer. The Boy was equally suspicious as we sat down with sweets from the shop and some water for him. As is my custom I offered him some of my beer - the theory goes that if I never limit his access to something he'll never develop a fascination with the forbidden. As usual he demurred (he once got as far as allowing some bubbles to pop on his face, never again). "No, Gaggy, you know that I do not wyke your beer". And he wrinkled his nose and face.

In fairness, the CO2 looked heavy upon opening and, although there was no real head, both the coppery tint and the fizz were more suggestive of cheap lager than a decent ale. Still, the warmth of the day and the lovely sunshine had pushed me to a pale ale rather than a stout, which is the other ale that I currently have in. However, the bottle promised far more than I believed it could possibly deliver from 355ml, suggesting it was 1.9 units. Hold on, what? Yes, it was 5.4% ABV. Oh. Well. After a trip out to the park with his scooter and some odd games of chase and catch (no, they are apparently very different even if the rules seem, to my uncultured brain, to be exactly the same) it was a good wake-up call, I guess, don't underestimate ales on a hot day, that way will surely lie madness.

First taste wasn't half bad. Light on the malt and heavy on the cascade hops. I recognised the taste (and yes, I was geekishly proud of myself) from the Cascade Ale from Saltaire way back when. However, here, in this environment, it was actually rather nice. Perfect for the hot weather and for sitting companionably in the garden. Not too strong, fading to a mellow yeasty taste that then gave way to the faint spice of hops and the over-riding malt of memory. The Boy played with some sweets in the shape of racing cars and then demanded my presence on the trampoline. I said I would come after I had finished my beer. And that, right there, is perhaps the best way to sum up the overall impression of this (rather cheap and cheeky) ale: it was good enough for me to finish before I went and played with the Boy. Not rushed, but light enough to take a pretty quick drinking session and serviceable enough to fit in the milieu. I can't really ask for more than that.

Especially since we had popped out at lunch time (I had managed to mark about 22 papers) to get me some lunch. Lately I have become enamoured of very cheap and cheerful noodles. I know, I know, they've been current just about everywhere since forever but I completely missed out on them until recently. They are great for lunches at work because I get hot food with little effort and the price means I'm saving a good £15 a week on lunches. Mind you, I'm still spending about £5 more a week than I was before we moved, so it's not really a saving overall. It was a nice set of noodles too, lovely and spicy, I shall be buying them again. Indeed, that spicy background probably explains the way the mellow nature of the beer popped out at me and why it was that the Boy was adamant that we went on a trampoline (he got some sweets in case it wasn't already obvious).

Enjoy this one, then, in warm weather, it's a proper summer ale and it is light and airy. Almost thirst-quenching (forgetting that the alcohol content will dehydrate you) and fits the smells of a garden awash with garlic, onions, potatoes and mint. In fact, chewing a mint leaf during the experience actually enhanced the taste and really allows the hops to shine through. I am reasonably impressed, can you tell?

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