7pm

“You don’t get both,” I said to my girlfriend, as she held up a stout and a Train Wreck from Butte Creek, a barleywine, comparing them with a critical eye, sniffing from each glass deeply. She ponders and chooses the barleywine, leaving me Boulder‘s oak aged oatmeal stout. I can live with this.

She takes a sip and makes a face. It’s not hoppy enough, she says and though I’m not sure that a hoppy barleywine is to style, I am not in a position to argue. Something seems strange about it, that’s for sure. I can’t place it but the beer doesn’t finish with that kind of smooth maltiness I would expect nor a hop-like bitter note. Instead there is a sour note to it which suggests that there’s something else going on. What, I just don’t know.

She tries some of my stout and makes another face: “Something like burnt rubber in there” and crazily enough, she doesn’t like that. I don’t get those flavors but I do get s a touch of antiseptic, as if this ale was too clean. It’s also not the way I would expect a stout to taste. Something isn’t right and I can’t put my finger on what.

Some nights, there are misses.

But only insofar as the beer is concerned. The bar is still a bit on the low key side (I think the cold is still keeping people away) but it also seems more boisterous than last week. There is a vibe in the air, as though people are resisting the dark nights more. Maybe I’m just imagining it and the music is louder but it feels like people are snarling at the cold, reminding winter that it can’t keep us indoors. I’ve got great company, so the beer can take a backseat for once.

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