Friday night. Real Ale Husband isn’t home yet, it’s been a busy week, and it’s time for a rewarding drink. I look at our bottled ale selection- some fine specimens. And herein lies the rub. These beers are treasures R.A.H and I bought in a delightful farm shop on the outskirts of Oxford. (When I say farm shop, it was more posh supermarket in the middle of nowhere, but being a Londoner, anywhere that sells carrots with the mud still on feels rustic. If you ignore the woman flogging loyalty cards.) Anyway, the beers we purchased in this Waitrose in disguise were lovely specimens. Beers we can’t easily get in bottle form round these parts. (I’ve yet to enter the world of online beer ordering- it still pains me to picture the lonely landlord round the corner twiddling his thumbs while mine are twiddling on computer keys ordering beer to drink at home.) However, these beers we bought as we simply couldn’t resist- Hook Norton Double Stout, Wickwar Station Porter...
So as I said, this was my problem come 6.30 on Friday night. I couldn’t open one of them without the presence of R.A.H. These were treasures discovered together, to be enjoyed together. So now what? Aha. A wilting bottle of Sainsbury’s basics cider lies half full (or half empty? You decide). That’ll do. That’ll clear the stresses of the working week and I am sure you will agree that there was no way the hubby would mind that disappearing.
Then he arrives home, and a bottle of Cava flies down our throats during dinner. We get rather excited about the line up of the upcoming Hop Farm festival and dance around the flat to Iggy Pop, and the party mood tempts us into a shot each of something bright blue and raspberry flavoured lurking in our drinks cabinet. (It’s more of a shelf, actually- it doesn’t have the doors that are surely prerequisite for a cabinet.)
We head on out into the Lew-sharm night, armed with a drink for the train journey (Boris hasn’t banned us from drinking on this form of transport.) So, this pre-party tipple should have been one of the aforementioned bottled beers, I agree. However, something in the Lust for Life lyrics subconsciously made R.A.H reach for the vodka and make a portable Moscow Mule in a bottle of ginger beer.
We arrive at the party. In a wine bar. No real ale (or in the words of the dear ex-bus conductor ticker, Clippie- NORA), nor any beer that wasn’t Becks. Hell, I’d already started on the vodka, I better carry on. Vodka and Tonic please. Next- this is a wine bar- let’s get wine. Then- Oh look- you’ve got a Portuguese Bock- do you want to swap it for the rest of my wine? And then I stumbled, got a bit loud(er) and declared I needed to go home.
A hangover like no other ensued. My head was yelling "What are you doing to me, carzy woman? This is not the usual cosy yummy beer stuff that I am used to!" My stomach was equally unforgiving, "How dare you, Real Ale Girl! I will make you pay!" And I will keep the rest to myself.
I tried toast. Paracetamol. More sleep. Hot chocolate, tea, ginger tea, lemon green tea. And then I went to the pub. To the beer festival at The Grape & Grain in Crystal Palace, to be precise. One half (North Yorks.' Flying Herbert) and all was well with the world. Hangover gone. Kapoof.
The moral of this long and winding story? Only drink real ale. That’s it.