Earlier this month, Jenny and I seized on a special summer opportunity -- we ATE OUTSIDE (like deer! No, wait something cooler...like polar bears!). All of you back in Albuquerque are snickering right now because eating dinner on a back patio is a totally regular and normal activity. In Sandycove, if it's not raining, it's windy, and if it's not windy, it's cold, and if it's none of those things, then there are two (hungry-and-adorable-beggin'-for-scraps) dogs and various small children (also adorable without beggin' for scraps) in the backyard, not to mention the patio table and chairs are the favorite home of island spiders (polar bears don't like spiders). We love the dogs, and our landlords and their family are wonderful -- but their backyard is not always conducive to dining.
So when we had the chance, we grabbed it. The "neighbors" were out of town with their dogs, and while the night might have been cooler than we prefer (W-w-w-what is he t-t-t-talking ab-b-bout? It-t-t-t was f-f-f-f-fine...), it was at least clear and dry. So we took our homemade stir-fry out back, sat our own spider-free dining room chairs on the patio, and popped a couple brews that had been waiting in our fridge for just such a moment as this one.
On this night I sipped a Ginger Beard (Fiery Alcoholic Ginger Beer, 4.2%). The Wychwood Brewery of Oxfordshire, England proudly proclaims they are Brewers of Character. So with moral qualms aside, I was able to relax as the beer rolled over my tongue.
I'll admit my expectations were high for the Ginger Beard (ironic, considering there's a dwarf on the label) -- Wychwood is known for its Hobgoblin and Scarecrow beers, both of which Jenny and I have enjoyed on particularly fine Albuquerque summer evenings. And this one lived up to standard. You won't like it if you really don't like ginger (what's not to like?) -- but if you're only opposed to the harsh face-puckering bitterness of strong ginger (oh yeah, that), this beer takes care of that problem (oohh, sounds so...mobster). The ginger element was spicy and snappy -- honestly not as fiery as the label suggests, though I was perfectly fine with that, having recently tried a non-alcoholic ginger beer with enough fire to roast a dozen dwarves (now that would be an episode of the Soprano's worth watching!). No, this ginger was smooth, like a well buffed car. You could run your finger over the polished taste of this one, and you wouldn't produce so much as a squeak (oh yeah? well what happens when you start the beer's engine?). It was an excellent complementary beer for the right meal, which the stir fry was. Yummers!
Jenny also branched outside of the Republic, though she at least stayed on the island with her selection. Only she can do this oddly-named beer justice:
I partook of the Clotworthy Dobbin from Whitewater Brewery in Northern Ireland. Yes, I know it sounds like I sat out back sucking on something from a hospital cabinet, but the Clotworthy's taste is worlds away from its name. According to the bottle, Mr. C. Dobbin was an old-timey brewer, ca. 1800s, and this beer was named to honor his legacy.
And what an honor it is! The Clotworthy is definitely drinkworthy. It was smooth like a nut brown ale, only with a bit more bite. Not much more. Maybe as much as puppy teeth.
Were I recommending this beer to my fellow-female bookish types, I might make the following comparison (in keeping with the spirit of the past, the British Empire, and all things literarily smooth and brown): (and please say this in your own snobbiest accent) If the Santa Fe Nut Brown is Rochester, then Whitewater's Dobbin is nothing short of Wickham!
Okay, enough snooty references for now. Back to Zach and his dwarf-roasting!
The meals disappeared too quickly (chattering teeth chew quicker is all), and the trace heat from the day's "sunshine" dissipated (jeez, guess we should have kept those dwarf-fires burning, eh?). We stubbornly remained outside, sipping our beers and enjoying the pleasures of an Irish evening (dwarves thinking of visiting Ireland: be warned). We whistled tunes on our beer bottle flutes, accompanied by the matchbox-castanets of cackling magpies scheming to steal... well, anything they could lay their beaks on.
With the little birds providing the entertainment, and Jenny providing the company, the beers were almost inconsequential (a shame when you think of all the Gimli's who gave their lives...), despite how much we enjoyed them. (Hey, I said nearly!)