Standing in front of the wall of beer at my local recently, I didn’t have anything in mind other than the idea of really kicking back and enjoying a beer.
So, which exotic brew will it be today? My eyes wander from the Belgians to the Danes to the Dutch to the English to the German to the Mexican and down the long and diverse row of American craft beers. Hmmm. Nothing’s coming, so I say to myself, Do you want to tax your brain or relax?
Relax, for sure, I return. I want a no-brainer beer.
Ba-ding! There it is right in front of me – Samuel Smith’s India Ale, from The Old Brewery, Tadcaster, North Yorkshire.
Yup, the beer gods were with me today. Just what I was looking for. As soon as I pour it out into a dimpled English mug I think of the old mates I used to drink with in Bicker, near Boston, Lincolnshire (home of The Stump, also known as St. Botolph’s Church, which is visible for miles in that flat agricultural landscape). Mostly we drank at the White Swan, a Watney’s house, where I was living and working, but elsewhere, too. Sometimes we’d pile into John’s two-toned green Morris Minor (I never told him that I always thought of it as a turtle) and hit another village, such as Swineshead or Donnington, or sometimes into the city of Boston. But mostly we drank at the White Swan. They taught me how to play steel darts in a crowded room, with the dartboard directly above the almost always-lit fireplace (East Anglia is a chilly place).
India Ale transports me to those halcyon days. Each taste seems to put me there, in a great old pub, talking to my old mates with a big mug of draft India Ale in my paw. The Small Faces are playing on the jukebox. “It’s all too beautiful. It’s all too beautiful.”
India Ale is malty but beautifully balanced with fruity hops. The brewery website does not reveal the hop variety. Something decidedly English is my guess.
But, you know what, this beer was supposed to be a no-brainer. This isn’t relaxing! Excuse me. I’m going to get back to enjoying my beer.