It was Jo's idea. From Malawi she emailed me, suggesting we have night of strange beers and sausages. Being fond of both beer and sausages, I thought this would be grand. Freya got involved. At one point there was discussion about actually making our own sausages, but that was quickly brushed aside for the sake of convenience.
The guest list proved quite simple - Broomie and assorted other beer lovers. I was given strict instructions that there was to be no chat of verticals or horizontals - my forthright booze geekery had to be left behind for the night, lest I put everyone off the lighthearted hedonism of the evening. I began to plot a menu.
There's only so much you can do with sausages. Don't get me wrong, they're as fine a meat-delivery system and conveniently packaged a foodstuff as you're likely to find. But because of that, they're also a touch limiting. So I decided on a trio of sausages. For the beef and tomato ones, I made a big pot of sausage stuffing with sage, onions, celery and an excellent oat bread, healthily enriched with organic beef stock. Then for the beef and caramelised onion sausages I made a Dijon mustard batter and baked them as toad in the hole. The fine Toulouse I simply pan-fried with mash and a red wine and onion gravy.
I never did check exactly how many different bottles of beer there were. Broomie separated them into different flights and at first things started slowly. We bantered about, munched on our food and chatted about the beers at a respectable, if somewhat conservative, pace. Bottle after bottle was opened and passed around, poured with deference and sipped. Some drew ire from the table, some ubiquitous affection, but most often opinion split, and one's nectar was another's dishwater. We tread on steadily and as more ale was supped, so our minds strayed from sound to merry, and then from merry to jolly. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings provided the soundtrack. Lagers, IPAs, Christmas beers, ales all slipped down a treat.
A pause in the revelry. Jo and I stood on the balcony. We leant on the rail, listened to the sea, looked out towards the water and shared a cigar.
Instead of tasting notes, we doodled strange pictograms meant to express the impression the beer left, though after awhile these images became more abstract. The next morning they would appear meaningless. We all got very drunk and shouted 'Fuck your beans!' at each other with laughter-laden ferocity. We laughed at Stuart on his crutches, making his way to the loo ever so slowly. Of course it would transpire that his bladder would be the smallest, what with his ambulatory difficulties and all. Ben suggested we start a microbrewery, earnest and enthusiastic. Mostly, by the end, we spouted gibberish and so taxis were phoned to take people home.
The next morning saw French toast and the afternoon cricket by the beach. We ate nachos and drank pints and traded our beer-filtered versions of the night before. It's maybe a little distant, now. There's something about how the next day always fades towards its end.