Truth be known, I was something of a naive git, and shy as well. In spite of it, I managed to make a few friends while I was there, including a young Scot named Elisa. For some reason, E delighted in poking fun at my American-ness. She was never particularly cruel about it, she simply had a knack for cutting through all of the bullshit and challenging my preconceptions.
I forget if it was the first or the second night that we met where we were sitting in a pub and she said something to the effect of "I bet you don't even know what real beer tastes like." She was right. The only beer I had been exposed to was pale, tasteless, mass-produced swill and I just didn't understand the appeal. E ordered pints of the house Bitters and proceeded to educate. She taught me the lore about beer as food, how most every town had its own brewery, and most mysterious of all, how the Bitters we were drinking was very much alive. I was entranced, so much so that I fell in love right there. (I'll let you figure out whether my feelings were for the beer or the woman on your own.)
More than anything else, this discussion shaped my time there. My travels were between pubs, with cathedrals and castles and museums just stops along the way. It was the fascination of the local pint that inspired the aimless trek through the Western Highlands, the mystery of the house brew that had me walking through Cornwall. Here was a living history that I could taste. It was brilliant.
All of this is by way of saying that I've decided to try my hand at an English Bitters tomorrow. It fits with my production schedule (I need to bottle and rack tomorrow as well), and I think it's time to give it a go. The Steam Beer is ready for crack, and those of you who come will be gifted with bottles of First Snow Old Ale for to drink or to have.
Per usual, noonish at the House of Twelve Maples, earlier if you want breakfast. Bring whatever.