Thursday, March 24, 2011

... du plaisir plein la bouteille pour tout le monde!

Days Remaining to Next Beer: 356


I have something to tell you. This is not easy for me, I'm vain and eager to maintain a facade that inspires confidence and remains beyond reproach. Yet, I feel we've traveled together this far, I should be utterly, unequivocally honest with you. Earnestly so. Imagine that I'm holding your hands, staring earnestly into your eyes, and a tear is welling up at the corner of my eye. The left one, the one that doesn't twitch or squint of its own accord.
I had to call a brief time-out on the hiatus on beer, use my safety, my life-line if you will, only for extraordinary circumstances that I already almost regret caving in to, and frankly caving to so quickly. 

Perhaps it's the influence of a city that would inspire hotel lobby artwork on par with something out of a propagating union of Grim Fandango, the game not the Argentinian beer, and Dante's Inferno, the classic poem, not the EA game.

Montreal. Mont Réal, or Mount Royal if you're nasty. Off the plane, checked into the hotel, and strolling Rue St. Catherine looking for some eats before Otis has a meltdown once he realizes we're in a different time zone and thus he's up way the hell past his bed time.

And then we see her, sense more than hear her siren song from the street, Les 3 Brasseurs, a mere shopping district brewery, and yet I can feel their tug on my pallet, can see the men in the canoe drifting past the moon while a Pegasus leaps a church on hallows eve, can smell the hops and barley, and I suddenly know surely enough to testify before heaving masses that the simple knowledge of such a place would bring men to tears, and that hearing such sweet sultry serenades would dash my already paltry willpower up against the rocks of a venue that felt sampler, glass, pint, and pitcher far too limited a selection of serving sizes for beer crafted locally with proofs that qualify more as wines and meads than beers.

So yes, I folded, I failed to convince my crew to strap me to the mast that I might go wildly yet safely insane on the lullaby of the passing temptation, wobble onward to healthier fare, like some salad or a jar of flax. No, I caved like a tired bat and shortly thereafter held in my hand the Mjölnir of pedestrian pints, the massive mug of Montreal juice, full well with the knowledge that moments later I would feel sad, pot-bellied, empty, and alone. Because I made the rules, and I saw fit, or unfit, as to violate them.

And yes, you're completely right and I understand why you've moved further down the sofa. I messed up. I cheated on you, on your expectations of me, and I want you to be the first to know about it. Please feel free to judge away.

That was a remarkable pint, though. Why it was uniquely remarkable deserves some explanation. Please don't storm out the door yet and if you'll bear with me let me try to illuminate why. I mean, you of all people deserve that. You deserve, if nothing else, an explanation.

This particular pint (technically a litre) accompanied a remarkable moment in time. And I have been watching a lot of Fringe lately so trust me to go a bit Walter Bishop over this notion of going from 20 and having a death wish to forty and having a family. My son and wife chatting and all of us sitting in a place together that none of us have been in before, or may ever be in again. Sure, that's heavy handed and melodramatic, and yep, that's how passionate I actually am about both my family and about finding the best beers and the best occasions for drinking them with my family both immediate, extended, and occasionally, surrogate.

The truly noteworthy pints take more than simply the skill of the brew master to brew or the pull master to pour; those special, unique, stand out pints take on the context of the entire occasions and circumstances they exist within. A skilled brew master can craft an excellent beer, and a deftly tilt cup pour master can set the perfect head to an measure of container; however only truly wonderful and unexpected contrivance of the very fates can meaningfully conspire to create truly lasting impressions wherein a beer transcends just being gut-builder pop with a proof and becomes something actually worth cherishing or making toasts with.


That said, I still feel I have cheated, and that I have let you down. So next week when I return to Vancouver I will begin to make amends. I will run enough laps or break enough rocks or however else to get a sweat on to burn off what calories that mighty litre sized pint was worth, and I will run or walk or hike or swim or climb or stack rocks or break ceramic cocks equivalent to that amount twice weekly for the remaining weeks until the next Ides. I will not cheat and use wheels, or a car, or jet wings, or magic spells, or an invisible dragon, or one of those Rascal things regardless what color it might happen to be. Beer can be a wonderful thing but not when taken for granted or beyond moderation.

I need to write more. Check.
I need to be a kinder, gentler, healthier, responsible baby's daddy. Working on it.

And I need to appreciate everything like it might be my last thing, all the time, though ideally without breaking promises or cheating on anyone, especially you.

And that's the way it is, this Thursday night in a motel room in Montreal, Otis finally asleep in his hotel provided crib, Lindz is winding down on the spacious couch while fluffy English language entertainment leaks from the hotel TV as though to disguise how alien where we are now potentially is.

I hope you'll indulge me, as I might never forgive myself. Ides to Ides is about more than beer, and if I let myself spread my legs for every exotic pint that sings the siren song, especially when I'm traveling to places famous for their brew masters like Montreal, well, all I'm really doing is cheapening the project, because another point to all this is rebuilding a healthy excitement about and respect for beer, as an art, a craft, a legacy with history and richness of culture.

Tonight I became swept up with something special, and I'll indeed cherish the memory of it. I'll have too since  the super friendly polyglot waitress wouldn't let me buy the mug and I didn't have the balls to steal it. Maybe tomorrow...

Anyway, I need to stick to the plan from now on, and if it means passing on some of the best beers on God's Ale Earth, so be it, all the more excuse to return to Montreal next year.

Hope you'll see your way clear to forgive me, give me this one strike just to test what this whole goofy project is actually about.