Saturday was under the sign of a pact. A got 1 h 30’ at the fest – due to the train tables shrunk to just over an hour – after which J&T (weary of a weeks’ GBBeFfing) would wait for us at the tube entrance in front of the Hall. Then we would go shopping – that was of course what was in store for my significant other : Harrod’s (with X-mas decoration already in display! – and I was hoping for Mr. Bean) and Fortnum and Masons were on the schedule. Gifts for the Katzenjammer Kidz at home, the Babysit, the significant other self… The afternoon would take us back to Wim-ble-doon, for a leisurely tasting in the garden (under the railway), a pub or two, and a finale in the inevitable London gastronomic treat: a choice Indian restaurant (Cobra? Kingfisher?…). J&T had discovered a superb place the other week (Sarkhel’s in Southfields), and had booked us a table for the Sat’ night fever. As Thom and Paulette heard about this, they had decided to join for the afternoon /evening programme, so Jeremy had been digging, with my very self-interested help, on his shelves, and had secured us a display of various trophies, mainly USA, that would have been a proud sight in many’s the American beerhouse. As well as re-booked the table for six. No problem.
Via an interesting new train-route ( 2 different companies) we arrived well in time at Olympia, which, for once was opening at a decent tasting hour, 11.00 AM as at what every trained taster knows, is the best time on the clock for the little buds (oh stop grinning – I have to show what I know from time to time, no?). And then the feast started again!
But not before I first made a short stop at the bottled beer bar for filling up my suitcase a little bit. I came up with three interesting names: Wolf Woild Moild, Woodforde’s Admirals’ Reserve and Wenthworth Rampant Gryphon. Seem to have something with W’s. Not more, as there was another brace of beers waiting in J’s cupboard for taking along… and my arms are orangutan like enough as they are, I figured out. In the meantime, a fleeting glimpse and wave of Laurent Mousson, aka the Submarine Captain, which made me remember, hours later, that I again forgot to pay him for my ABO-membership. Shit. And then I attacked the Salamander Mudpuppy (OK, but what a name), and thanks to a MartinK suggestion, I could sample Spectrum Old Stoatwobbler, another new brewery try. And it’s handy to have your wife with you, with a glass, but who doesn’t drink. 2 at the same time, at every turn. Next turn, BTW, deserves some elaboration. In one hand, Ossett Silver Link. Good as expected from this Yorkshire brewer. But the other glass… Iceni Four Grains. Ratebeer tells me this is supposed to be German Weizen. That’s supposed to mean banana/cloves esters, etc. Instead it seems I smell some distant sewer. Awful! – and my face must have registered it. So when I have jotted this down, and doubtfully venture to try, the volunteer having served my, turns my booklet a bit in her directions. Her eyes shoot up as she reads aloud “Three out of ten for Nose? What’s wrong with this??” More power to the CAMRA system, but immediately she goes and fetches a bar manager who wastes no time and immediately pours himself a trial glass. In the mean time I could signify her the taste is not THAT bad – but this beer was going to be analysed if the littlest doubt would remain with the manager. And if that proves wrong, bye bye cask. I do not know if they did eventually, but it wouldn’t have harmed anyway. Apart from a thinnish, metallic taste, nothing positive could be said about this beer. German Weizen indeed. I seem to remember a try to marry raspberry syrup with wheat from this brewery – equally failed.
And then another rencontre: announced, but I’d forgotten. Not so Marcus, delivering me a package of the newest gems from microbreweries out of the beerdesert Luxemburg (as in Grand Duchy of). So there I was, x bottles in a plastic bag in my hand, 3 on my back, for leaving later with. Oh dear. But all the same, thanks Marcus. We’ll meet again, and then it will be this Greek carrying gifts. Onwards, soldiers; Beowulf Wiglaf, Border Reivers’ IPA – and then I managed Portchester Slingshot. And then the hour was over and Lut was hopping from one leg to another (Jeremy will be waiting, it’s a quarter past, we have to get out…) Oh dear. Actually their train had just arrived. And Harrodswards we turned, in a blood-heated city.
I do not know what hails the people of Harrods’. I’m sure they have very good ground to forbid the wearing of rucksacks inside the shop. Maybe they can live from the Sloane Rangers who have a palfrey to carry their belongings. But from the moment you’re carrying a bag (with bottles) in one hand, and a rucksack (with bottles) in the other, you’re not very keen on buying even more. And the airco inside Harrods’ – well, it seems to date from the same time as the Egyptian art-deco. The mood inside the Pattyn household ‘quickly’ deteriorated, and poor J&T had to serve often as meeting spot for two heated-up parents, not agreeing what to buy for the distant children… It seemed the larger, unwieldier, heavier the toy, the more Lut would covet it. Oh, not to forget pricier… But we managed to find a compromise eventually; even when it took a solemn promise to do some more shopping in Wimbledon on Sunday morning, before the decision not to go Fortnumandmasoning anymore was downed.
Because in the mean time, some more aspects had changed. First of all, good part of the afternoon had gone. Second, a phone call to Thom and Paulette was met by horrible sounds, usually linked to pretty bad cases of hangovers. No pubs for them, no garden party, and come to think of, Indian food didn’t seem to be such a good idea at all to them anymore. Which made Jeremy having to bear acting the fool, as he had to ring the restaurant a third time, telling that eventually the party would be 4 as first, no, not six, yes, four, as said the first time, sorry,… Poor Jeremy. Also, the prospect of sitting in the garden with a beer and nothing else became more and more enticing, with every notch up the thermometers all around kept climbing. The pub scheme was brought down to one, the ‘Sultan’ on the way to the restaurant, and the longer the garden scheme the better. Mind you, seen the innards of Jeremy’s cupboard, few pubs could interest me more. Only tiny additional problem: the fridge stocked for four, had now to be emptied by just two!
We did get home. Even when all trains were behind schedule (they weren’t allowed to do more than something like 50 mph on the tracks), there being a genuine fire on one of the tracks in Wimbledon, and we went bunkering at Marks’ and Spencers first, in order to have some stuffing. A little snack for along the beer. Mind you, I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry. And then we arrived home, we put everything and nearly ourselves in the fridge, hauled down some chairs, the feast could begin. Beer for us, guys, and water for the ladies – not as much in their glasses, as in basins for their weary feet. I’ll let you wonder no longer. Do tell me, what would you think of: Cottonwood ‘Endo’ India pale ale – a beer fit for a dentist – Hoptown India Pale Ale (big bottle), Hoptown DUIPA (big bottle), What? Protests? Doesn’t exist in bottles? Oh, yes, if Dr. Bill has gone for it, it does. Mind you, the bottle was totally unmarked as the name (it seems DUI-PA) stands for Driving Under Influence, and that is not well-looked upon. Ok, further: Lagunitas Brown Shugga (another big one) and Unibroue 11 – Belgian type 75cl. And up crept the thermometer in the garden. We did all sorts of interesting things: waving at train drivers and overheated passengers on trains, waiting to enter the station; try to break in on my Ratebeer account (failed miserably); do some naturespotting (grey squirrels (did they smell native American beer?), confirming passion fruit grows on passiflora – and the weather was hot enough to make them orange); heating some garlic bread, and becoming a teeny bit slurred in speech. It seems also difficult to find a music genre everybody loves. But the beer, the beer obliterates everything. We ended up with Cassissona from Birrificio Italiano. Strange after the former? Well, maybe, but the idea was an aperitif to the restaurant. The grand finale was for after that. BTW, after the Mama Kriek we decided Lorenzo has to learn his Italian brewing friends a LOT about fruit beers. They’re nowhere there as such.
It had been silently decided – the ‘Sultan’ would be for my next Wimbledon visit. When we finally left, it was for the Indian. I’ll be short about that. The food was very good to excellent, Jeremy was very surprised to learn the mango-lassi Lut and I had as aperitif (second for me) was totally alcohol-free, and Argentinian white wine ought to carry some warning as ‘demi-sec’. Faugh!
And, much later, we found ourselves again in the hot Wimbledon flat. I was somewhat less driven as before – but, the estimation of quality was such that I couldn’t, wouldn’t let them pass. They estimation was even below reality. Let’s say the Old Salty Barley Wine 2002 woke me up completely (WOW!), and singing, Jeremy reverently opened the last bottle, a 75cl bottle of Olde School Barley Wine, in good DFH manner at 15%ABV. Words are not sufficient. I was down on my way to another meeting with my Neanderthaler pal.
Here endeth this story about Georgie going to Wimbledon. Part V would be Sunday, and as that was a totally non-beer related day, it has no place here. After all, God didn’t work on Sunday neither, and his chores were of another magnitude. But then, he hadn’t to cope with a serious bout of Ghandi’s revenge…