Sometimes in life, there are moments when the only right thing to do is lean against a wall, look at what is in front of you, and smile. They are the moments when you forget about the rubbish weather, that bill you know is coming in the post, the fear of business happenings impacting your job, and instead take solace from the clusterfuck life can be by embracing the beauty of little things.
I got the opportunity to run a beer tasting for Beer Without Borders at The Celtic Inn in Palmerston North last night, the first of what will hopefully become a monthly happening. (Disclaimer: I got paid). Twenty-ish people got to enjoy seven beers, as long as they could put up with me jabbering about them for a minute or so. Beer events are thin on the ground in the place colloquially known as Palmy, so many of the local beer nerds turned out. There were also a few I had never met, including a couple who said they used to be regulars at the Regional Wines and Spirits tastings Geoff Griggs is often called in to run. A move to Palmy for work put the kibosh on them attending those tastings, so a tasting at an Irish pub run by someone with not even a modicum of Geoff’s knowledge and talent was the next best thing.
The beers were great, ranging from Ballast Point Mango Even Keel to the 2012 vintage of Green Flash’s barleywine. A couple American-brewed IPAs, a barrel-aged Belgian brown thing, and a milk stout were also in the mix – all beers I expected the crowd to love – so it was a pleasant surprise when Bellerose Bière Blonde Extra was the people’s pick of the night. I have been a big fan of it for a long time, so was glad to see a few more people jump on the same bandwagon.
But it was about five beers in, when everyone was cradling their glasses of barleywine, when I had my favourite moment of the night. I had talked to a few people about what a barleywine actually was, taken a quick toilet break and finished tidying up the area where I was keeping all the beer. I kept off the barleywine (a responsible thing for someone who was driving home), but got myself a nip of Bellerose and watched. Complete strangers talked to each other, all the while enjoying some great beer in a Lion-tied bar, in a city almost anyone would say was not the place to go if you wanted to expand the beer-orientated parts of your mind. I honestly never expected to see something like that happen in Palmy; previous beer festivals in the city, which aimed to push the responsible drinking of lots of different types of good beer, have often turned into parties where punters simply sink gallons of That Thing You Always Drink. But not last night.
I leaned back against the wall. Took a sip of beer. Everything else in life – the storm raging outside, the bill, the job – did not matter. It was a simple. Enjoyable. Beautiful, in it’s own beery way.
And I smiled.