Thursday, February 25, 2010

Theme Thursday : Bottle


I blame my father. I have never been able to work out why he made me a member of the Sons of Temperance movement when I was only three years old, but he did. He wasn't a teetotaller himself nor did he hold particularly strong views about drink. My brother - who was enrolled at the same time - always claims that it was the influence of the chap next door - for some reason he was always known as Wiggy - who was big in the Sons and who collected our weekly sixpence. For whatever reason, I became a card carrying member. Long before I was ever tempted to sip a milk stout or pass through the swinging doors of the public bar, indeed long before I had lost my milk teeth, I was a fully-fledged, stone cold sober abstainer. Before people get too worried, I have to say that it didn't last long. Wiggy mysteriously vanished from our lives (the rumor was that he had run off with the barmaid from the White Horse) and natural teenage rebellion set in. I took to alcohol with the enthusiasm of a convert and I have never looked back since. 

Before I go much further I need to put in a word of warning of the "do not try this at home" variety. I am well aware of the potentially harmful nature of alcohol, both in a medical and a social sense. I am also aware of the fact that many people have a very real problem with potential addiction to alcohol. However, I have been blessed with a meritorious relationship with alcohol : I am able to enjoy its effects without in any way becoming dependent upon it. One night I am quite happy to go to the pub and have three or four pints, and then for three or four nights I am happy to have nothing more intoxicating than a mug of strong tea. And so I am able to enjoy alcohol, and all the things that go with it : the real ales, the cozy pubs, the industrious breweries, the sun-stoked vinyards and the salt-lashed distilleries. And, of course, the bottles.

Strangely enough, bottled beer is not at the top of my alcoholic hit parade. Call me traditional if you like, but I always think that beer should gush out of a hand-pump under the guidance of a comely barmaid (OK, call me a traditionalist and a sexist if you like). Lager I drink out of bottles and I prefer it that way, but that is mainly down to the fact that it is difficult to find a half-decent draught larger in this country. Wine should come from bottles - never boxes. But, in my mind, the finest content of any bottle must be a single malt whisky. Pride of place in my room is given to a small collection of single malts which I have acquired over recent years. I am working my way through them, when the spirit takes me, so to speak. When the last drop is eventually consumed you might think that all I will be left with is the bottle. But there will also be a warm aftertaste and a powerfully rich memory.

36 comments:

  1. I'm still laughing at the notion of Wiggy and the bar-maid running off together.

    I knew you'd like this TT, Alan. It was tailor-made for you!

    Slainte!

    Kat

    St. Patrick's Day I'll be breaking my Lenten abstention for a few glasses of various composition.

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  2. WHITBREAD "WHITE LABEL" Is the best bottled beer I ever tasted! Do You Remember it Alan?

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  3. Great post! Aaahh I was raised in a very strict home; however, I am fortunate as you in that I can drink to my fill (which isn't all that much .. hee hee). There is a good cold beer that satisfies on a hot summer day! :) The Bach

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  4. Great bottles picture! I had never heard of the Sons of Temperance. I wonder how Wiggy got his name...

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  5. I bet you smiled when you saw the theme was 'bottle'...haha!

    I prefer a glass of white wine...we'd go well together..you wouldn't have to share your lager! ha.

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  6. I prefer wine as well, although I've definitely had my share of other drinks (when in Rome... or Ireland...you know).

    My family was always very open with alcohol. They all drink (or drank) but not to excess, and not until after 5 (that makes it all okay, right?)

    great post :)

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  7. You traditionalist sexist pig!

    maracie: adjective: a sadness reminiscent of dancing

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  8. Sadly...I'm allergic to beer...

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  9. Alan, I can relate to the dangers of alcoholism only too well, and this hits pretty close to home; tho' I've been dry for a score of years now...

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  10. I still enjoy a pint from time to time, but I could live without it. Still hard to beat HSB (Horndean Special Bitter.

    Tony mentioned White Label. How about Worthington White Shield? Now there was a good bottle-conditioned IPA!

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  11. I remember years ago when the mainframe computer company I worked for took us for a 3 day meeting at the Gleneagles Hotel. The whisky marketing board laid out one room (after breakfast!) with this enormous array of whiskies from all the main distilleries; from blended through the top single malts. Not a lot got done that morning.

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  12. Tony & Martin : I can remember both White Label and White Shield but my memory fades and I can't remember which was which. They still brew White Shield I believe (although it is now brewed by an independent microbrewery)

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  13. Bach : Remind me, what is a hot summer day?
    LadyCat : Like so many of the nicknames from childhood, the meaning of Wiggy is probably long lost. Perhaps our great-grandchildren will read back through our blogging archives and ask "how did LadyCat get her name?"

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  14. rxBambi : As I believe I once proved in a post some months ago, it is always after 5pm somewhere in the world.

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  15. Jeffscape : You seriously need to write a word verification dictionary

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  16. Hi, Alan. Thanks for stopping by at the blog. I am returning the visit and like what I see. May this post go as a stern warning as to the dangers and missed pleasures of abstinence and temperance. Here's to that warm aftertaste and rich memory.

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  17. when the spirit takes me, so to speak.... love this, Alan. -J

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  18. very nice alan. yep like mine pulled straight from the tap as well. dont indulge as much these days, but on occassion...

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  19. Funny, we were just discussing a little children's temperance league newsletter my great-granparents subscribed for me in the late 50s. It didn't make me a teetotaler, though. You're giving me a huge craving for a nice frothy glass (on tap, of course) at 6:50 a.m.!

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  20. your da was a wise man enrolling you and your bro in the sot movement early - get it over with! than you can honestly say 'done that, been there'

    wonderfully written and entertaining.

    re beer - my favorite is a perfectly drawn pint of guinness - with a perfect creamy head.

    you are indeed blessed with the perfect constitution

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  21. beer should gush out of a hand pump and the U.S. is beginning to catch up to the rest of the world on that score, at least with respect to micro brews and smaller labels. I don't think A-B or Miller out of a hand pump is going to improve tho'.

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  22. The first alcoholic beverage I ever had was a Bass shandy, and I didn't realize that it was half beer! I felt a bit light headed.

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  23. Wonderful salute to the brew.
    Come on back to my post if you have the time. I finished the revision.

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  24. Like Subby, I come from the lot of those who can't drink without bad, even devastating effect--& so haven't for many years (since 1980, when still a youngster); but I say the more power to those who can enjoy their beer & whiskey without harm, & from the way you write about it, it seems clear you fall into that category. It does seem that infancy is an odd time to be enrolled in the temperence society! But maybe Mouse is right--get it over with while it's still a moot point.

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  25. I don't think we have Sons of Temperance in the US - I'm laughing at the idea of signing up a 3-year old! Enjoyed your post, Alan.

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  26. SO enjoyable Alan! I love it that you are "blessed with a meritorious relationship with alcohol."

    My husband would fully agree with you in regard to the finest content of any bottle being a single malt whisky. He takes great joy in trying different and notorious brands when we travel.

    Happy TT!

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  27. Great post, Alan. I, too, have a friendly relationship with alcohol. In my case, living in CA wine country, it is mostly vino, preferably red. Mmmm.

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  28. Of course you have that picture of Newcastle Brown Ale in your sidebar, and that happens to be my own brew of choice, although I don't know if anyone in all of the US actually has it on tap. I've also discovered Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale, which I'm enjoying very much. And luckily there are several pubs here in Newport who have both Bass and Guinness on tap, so I can have my black & tan like a civilized human being.

    But the best of all is the bottle of 15-year-old Laphraoig single malt I have here. There's no nectar of the gods better than a Hebridean single malt!

    Great post, Alan.

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  29. Wiggy..what a hoot. I've never been much for drinking, but when i do i get quite a buzz and probably talk too much. Never drink alone...why bother?

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  30. I am not much of a drinker myself. I prefer a bottle of coke to a beer.

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  31. i agree. wine should NEVER come out of a box. and certain beer just tastes wrong in a bottle. (of course, i'm no beer fan myself - so it just tastes wrong to me most of the time)

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  32. Hahaha loved this one. My relationship with alcohol is much the same, I just wish it wasn't so bloody fattening! Sadly, I don't share your passion for beer although it makes great batter and stout great gravy. I've even used flat beer (not that there's ever much left over in this house of imbibing) as a hair rinse. Lovely! Enjoy your single malts. Iechyd da.

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  33. well said - a glass or a pint in moderation-Cheers!

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  34. oh yes.

    i used to think i didn't like whisky, till I tasted laphroaig....

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  35. Always a delight to pop over and read one of your stories.

    My father came home one night after a meeting pretending to be very drunk and scared all of us kids half to death. For some reason that night is revisited in my memory each time I am offered a drink, so I have never been one to partake.

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  36. That last bit was very profound.
    "When the last drop is eventually consumed you might think that all I will be left with is the bottle. But there will also be a warm aftertaste and a powerfully rich memory."

    That's true not only of spirits but of life. When the last drop of life is gone there is more than just an empty shell, there is left behind in its' wake a sea of memories and affect. Well said.

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