My least favorite things to do are those that are both very difficult and also that I'm not very good at. I'm about halfway through the process of remodeling my kitchen, and my least favorite thing so far is the process of plastering and sanding the hole in the ceiling where a wall once was. This is further complicated by about a quarter-inch difference between the height of the ceiling on either side of where this wall once was, so the plastering job has some added difficulty.
I work on it for a while, and after I get down off of the ladder and I'm surveying my work so far, as the hard rain continues to fall, Penn State scores on Michigan again, and I'm despairing of the futility of life, it occurs to me what I want just now: a really good beer.
Going out to the beer fridge and looking at the dozen-odd flavors of beer, the obvious choice is the Dogfish Head 90-minute. It's familiar, and tasty, and most beer snobs would identify it as probably the best thing I have. But instead, I tried the Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted Ale (Harviestoun Brewery, Hillfoot's Village, Alva, Scotland) something I'd bought some time ago for a special occasion and never gotten around to trying. Well, I'm covered in plaster dust and everything sucks, so I hereby declare this a special occasion.
Boy, does this beer ever rise to it. It's a beautiful color - a light but cloudy caramel, makes a nice head, smells wonderful, and tastes pretty close to the platonic ideal of an ale. The girl says "almost tastes like it has lemon in it", and checking the label "a superb hop profile combining aromatic Hallertau Hersbrucker with spicy Challenger finished by late hopping with Styrian Goldings giving a sharpness like the twist of lemon". Just the right combination of smoothness and tang, with an aftertaste of 'hey, gimme some more of that'.
This beer is exactly what I wanted. At seven bucks a pint, I probably won't be drinking it all that often, but this is an ideal ale for special occasions.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have more plastering to do.
[ETA:] So, after some more plastering, some more rain, and Penn State scoring on Michigan again, I decided that a) I wanted another good beer, and b) what a beer this good needs is clearly a reference beer that everybody is familiar with, so I had the Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA. The girl tries a taste of this and says "lemony again. ...I think I liked the last one better".
And, y'know, I think I do too. It isn't that the dogfish head is any more hoppy (although the dogfish aftertaste is a lot more "HELLO, HOPS") because they're both pretty complex beers. The Harviestoun is just a little bit lighter and a little bit smoother.
Don't get me wrong: they're both really good ales. But I think the Bitter & Twisted, although slightly less bitter & twisted than the Dogfish Head 90 minute, is just slightly better.