Her lips were wet. There was a small amount of head remaining on her upper lip as she pulled the glass away from her mouth while the dim lights of the bar were playing their magic across her face. She had just noticed Alex staring at her, and in the even draw of speech women use to show disinterest in all things male she asked, “Can I help you?”
Alex had been out for a walk. He didn’t known how far he had come, but he had been walking for well over an hour, and he was getting thirsty. Being a stranger in this city, the streets were all beginning to look the same, so any street with any bar would do the trick. As he rounded what seemed an endless array of corners he saw what was about to become the start of a great night. The bar was on the corner with one of those vertical red neon bar signs calling the moths to the flame. Not being one to resist temptation, Alex headed for the door.
As the door swung wide, it was quickly evident this was not your average bar. There were more tap handles then one could count at first glance, and the music…it pulled him into a trance almost instantly. The melody was a subtle background pleasure laying the tones for a time of euphoric relaxation. Walking towards the line of bar stools, Alex realized that the bar was mostly empty, which was to be expected in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week. He pulled up a bar stool, and began to soak in the environment.
“Can I help you?”, came the voice a second time. It was then that Alex realized he had been staring at her drinking her beer.
“Actually, yes, you can help me. I’m from out of town, and I’m looking to drink a great beer, can you recommend something?”
She licked the remaining head from her lips before saying, “What’s your poison?” With a gesture of her hand she waved towards the taps on display and then continued, “Heavy, light…traditional, unique…they have everything here to suit your needs.”
Alex followed her hand as it guided him past the taps. So many choices, so many beers he never seen, and others he had only heard of in passing. “Unique”, came his reply. “I think I need something unique.”
“Well, if it’s unique you’re looking for there are a few beers that will pique your interest”, she said before taking another sip of her own beer. “But you look like your really in search of something, so for you I’ll recommend the Firestone Anniversary Ale”.
“Firestone Anniversary Ale? I can’t say I ever heard of that beer.” Alex murmured as he scanned the taps looking for the beer.
“Oh, you won’t find that one on tap, dear, that one comes in the bottle here, but you won’t be disappointed.”
The barkeep had been paying attention to the conversation from the end of the bar, and knew it was time for him to make his entrance. He walked about halfway down the bar and slid open door to the third cooler from end. From within he pulled out a large bottle of Firestone Anniversary Ale, popped the top, and slid it down the bar to Alex. “Would you like a glass with that”, he inquired.
“Sure.” And the barkeep slid a tulip glass Alex’s way. Alex took a moment to study the bottle. It was 22 ounces (650 ml) with a lion on one side, and and bear on the other. It seems based on the markings this was a special limited release, the fifteenth in such a series.
“Are you going to look at it all day or drink it?”, her voice said with a giggle, bringing him back from being lost in his study of the bottle.
He tilted the glass and began the the process of transferring the dark brown fluid from one vessel to another. As the beer settled he noticed it had a nice thick head of a tan shade. Bringing the glass to his nose he found the bouquet to be a complex mix of coffee, caramel, and undertones of fruit or citrus. Asking about how a beer could have such a a variety of flavor, the bartender informed him it was a blend of 76% Barley Wine style beers, 19% Stout, and 5% Imperial IPA.
Curious as to the process in the manner of his drink, she moved to the seat next to his. “That beer’s not going to drink itself, you know.” Finishing the statement with another pull from her own beer.
Alex noticed the head was again sticking to her upper lip, this time, however, she rolled her lips inward with a slight sucking sound to remove the frothy nectar.
Having filled his nose with the smell he took his first sip. It was pure delight.
At first the beer felt light, too light for such a dark beer, but as the beer rolled across his tongue, the flavor become more and more heavy until his mouth was enveloped in the full, robust flavor. All the aromas he was smelling moments before were now pleasantly transferring from smell to taste. With each sip came more flavors that he had previously not found…chocolate covered cherries, cinnamon, honey, they were all there.
She drank the final sip of her beer and said, “Well?”
“I was looking for a beer, but I found heaven instead.”, Alex said to her with a wink.
She stood up, gave a nod to the barkeep, laid a hand upon his shoulder and said, “Next time we’ll have to enjoy this game a little longer, but I’ve got to run for now.” And with that she walked out the door.
Alex was left with his beer and his thoughts, which was turning out to be not such a bad thing.
Based out of Paso Robles, CA