Monday, May 24, 2010

Wrong pint

"This isn't the double IPA"
"It's got nothing to it. This one's usually sweetish, admittedly not too hoppy, but richer than this. The carbonation's wrong too. And where's the body? This is meant to be 8.5%. There's no way...."
Just then I noticed my wife was giving me a bit of a look. Her parents had taken us and her sister to lunch. It isn't good form to complain in these circumstances, I suppose. So I shut up moaning. Still. If this is Spinnaker's double IPA, then I'm a burlesque dancer.

There's a number of ways to deal with being served the wrong drink. The most popular is to not really notice. On some subliminal level your psyche might register that something is amiss, as the Old Speckled Hen slides down your throat in place of the Bombardier. Perhaps a sense of unease will follow you around for the rest of the day. You may even have unsettling dreams. But you won't actually know.

Another option — if you do notice the error — is to drink it anyway. Especially if you're too timid/lazy/drunk/happy-go-lucky to try for a replacement. And who knows, you might have scored something better than you'd ordered.

Finally, you can complain. I'm sure for some ale-aficionados this is the highlight of their week — being presented with an excuse to demonstrate the breadth of your knowledge and get one over the help.

Usually I'll sit and sup my mystery pint, enjoying the instability of the universe and the new flavours it has endowed me. But as I sat in Spinnakers on Saturday, with what resembled a over-fizzy and skunked pilsner in my hand, I had to at least get some recognition.

"Excuse me," I said, as my wife's eyes rolled out of her head, "are you sure this is the Blue Bridge IPA? It tastes like something else."
The waitress was very helpful, to be fair. She brought over the bar-tender who gave me a half glass of verified Blue Bridge to compare with. Nice, I thought, it'll be right this time and they'll pour me another.

But it was the same wrong pint again. At this point, I lost my bottle and just nodded and said thanks. They couldn't have switched the taps, could they? Could a batch of IPA really differ so much from another? Could it lose 3 points of ABV, gain a double measure of CO2, and shed all resemblance to the pint I drank in this exact pub but a month ago?

I debated another run at the barman. But I figured the sight of their son-in-law attempting to force a barman to taste his drink, mumbling about "hops", and getting upset about "malt character", might have freaked the in-laws out a bit. So I sat and drank it, feeling slightly forlorn, and worried that my mouth might be broken, and that every lovely ale would from that moment on taste like fermented tomatoes.

But I think I'm OK. This Moylans double tastes as good as ever tonight. And now I've got an excuse to get down Spinnakers again soon for a follow-up.


  1. When I had Blue Bridge last week I was surprised to find it was 8.5% double IPA. It drank exactly like a normal 6% IPA.

  2. I think it varies greatly. I've had it on tap, syrupy but very restrained in hops, but definitely packing a punch. Same in bottle. This one tasted like Alexander Keiths.

  3. I rarely drink Spinnakers beers anymore. They are too thin and inconsistent. I had the double IPA once; Alex Keiths was hoppier.