52 Weeks 35: Alameda Irvington Juniper Porter

It’s a pretty solid porter, but there isn’t much juniper to taste. 

Or is there?

Like so many things involving beer, patience is required. Put the hops in for 60 minutes, not 35. Wait three, four weeks while the beer ferments, wait one, two, three weeks while it’s in the bottle so it will carbonate. Sometimes, I wait for the beer to warm up before tasting it. It’ll probably take about as long as this post will to write before I can drink it, and that really doesn’t do anyone any good; I’ll be done writing, you’ll be done reading and neither of us will know how this beer is. 

It’s not as though I can force you to go away for five minutes. It’s 8:47 now; do you mind? Time becomes a much more fungible element online; you can trade your time for a window into my life, but while you’re waiting for the beer to warm up you can listen to a song, or read someone else’s post, enjoy comics or a short skit. The possibilities open up now, whereas before you were stuck until 8:52. 

It’s not easy filling up five minutes. You have to practice it. Waiting is usually not something we do well, and it’s something I do especially poorly without distractions. A book to read, paper and pen to write with, television, card games, videogames. Conversation, if there is someone to converse with. To sit and just wait becomes a kind of endurance that I’m not used to, nor welcoming of chances to practice. 

Five minutes have passed. The porter still tastes like a porter; drinkable, coffee, faint barista nose, but still no juniper. No pine. A faint dryness that wasn’t there before at the end of the mouthfeel. Is the beer flawed, or does it need more time? Do I have the qualities to give it ten minutes? Do you have the time to wade through this text to see what I experience? 

The Christmas in July  celebration at Bailey’s continues. I’m almost convinced now that this celebration has torqued the weather for my fair city, giving us a cooler month than we ought to have. Mayhap I’ll see snow before August is upon me. 

Ten minutes. There’s a space in the middle of my tongue that goes numb when I drink this beer now, as though there is a void of flavor there. The dryness of the beer, more pronounced? Juniper trying to peek out from under the porter? I’m nearly halfway though the beer now and it still remains veiled. Certainly a perfectly tasty beer for what it is but when one adds strange words together an expectation of the unusual arises. Juniper and porter ought to be wrestling here but juniper seems to be happy to let the porter take the stage, lazily working the ropes behind the curtain. I don’t have to show up, you know.

Fifteen minutes. Long enough for me to set aside the request that this beer be something that wears a bold costume with strange symbols on it. It merely sits at the table, jeans and black tshirt. Why be special, when you can just be solid? This is a porter, like the porters before it, and it doesn’t have to prove anything to me, right? I can drink it, wish for a double cheeseburger and be satisfied, damnit.


Now I really want a double cheeseburger too. Grrr. 

Twenty minutes. This is long enough; anything that should be there ought to be there. It is possible my palate is unwilling or unable to appreciate the nuances of this drink, just as it is possible that there is no juniper for me to take in. Hard to say, but at this point I think I’ll move on.

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