Monday, June 28, 2010

A Day Of Disaster And Humiliation

The 27th of June 2010 will go down in history as a day of disaster and humiliation. A day when dreams withered and died, when hopes metamorphosed into nothing more than self-delusion. A watershed from whose heights we can look down on the glory that is behind us and the ignominy which awaits us with the inevitability of death and taxes.

I refer, of course, to the Tasting Day in the Great Beer Challenge between myself and my ex-friend Mark. The two families and invited guests gathered at The Hall to judge the outcome of the home brewing contest between Mark and myself. After some initial success with my Bloggers' Bitter (see my last post on this subject) I have had growing concerns about it as it seemed to fade away and die between mashing in the brewing bucket and being transferred to the keg. But I ignored my concerns in the belief that faith and hope would make up for a deficit in skills (if this reminds you of a certain football team, so be it). But yesterday the potato chips were down and it was time to sort out the men from the boys.

As soon as I saw Tim draw the first jug from Mark's keg (stored in a cool eighteenth century cellar) I knew the game was up. Whilst my brew looked jaded and tired, Mark's looked fresh and spirited. Where mine was dull and unimpressive, his was bright and adventurous (if this reminds you of a certain football match, so be it). To the taste his was everything you would look for : refreshing, pleasantly bitter, moreish and suitably alcoholic. With trepidation, I got The Lad to open a bottle of Bloggers' Bitter, decant it into a jug and serve it for tasting.

I think I was the first to spit it out, but I will long recall the look of relief on everyones' face when - following my lead - they were able to do the same. It was dead, it was atrophied, it was horrid, and - as far as I could tell - it was non-alcoholic. Little was said. Little needed to be said. Most people respectfully turned away as I poured the remaining brew over some unfortunate rose tree.

Or so I thought, until I came to process the official photograph of the event this morning. And there, clear as day, is my ex-friend Mark, with a large grin on his face, taking a photograph of my humiliating downfall. I need to mourn, to go away and lick my wounds, to re-examine my legitimate expectations and to try and build myself back up again after such a cruel day (if this reminds you of a certain nation of football supporters, so be it).


  1. Perhaps it could have been saved for pouring over "a certain football team's" heads!
    I wonder how the rose bush liked it. It might kill off a few aphids.

    So sorry for your loss, Alan.


  2. it's a great excuse to try again , isn't it?

  3. Anonymous1:14 PM

    Better luck next time!!!

  4. Well, you turned a disastrous event into a great read, Alan. Poor rose bush.

  5. I agree with Kat, Alan. You should have spared the poor rose bush. I'm sure if you try again, as Kylie suggests, there will be a dramatic improvement.

    I look forward to reading about your future efforts!

    (We won't mention our mutual disappointment regarding football).

  6. Sorry o hear that Blogger's Bitter fell flat; I was looking forward to signing an international distributorship with you.

    As for the certain national football team, it wasn't entirely their fault; the officiating in this series has been atrocious. That one the officials all seemed to "miss" was so obviously a goal!

  7. Anonymous2:08 PM

    what a chance missed for a classic pun(or should that be tun) a letter E missed on the second line wold have been the perfect word to describe your sad tale.

  8. Thank you one and all for your kind thoughts at a time of personal (and national) disappointment.

  9. Oh Anonymous, you are so right. With an eye for a missed opportunity like that, you could get a job as an Assistant Referee.

  10. What's really wonderful though is that you still had a good time and a good sense of humour. I wonder if that beer might still have been good for cooking a pot roast.

  11. A cruel day indeed - commiserations on all fronts. Is it enough to turn you into a cricket lover? We did well there in the end.

  12. Ah, the joys and pitfalls of brewing beer.
    He does have a big grin on his face!!
    Hopefully your next batch of beer goes better. And, of course, the next World Cup matches. Terrible weekend for both US and England. Mexico got beat, too. June 27th, next year, shall hopefully go better for your Great Beer Challenge reprise. It's my birth day, so my next birthday wish blowing out the candles shall be that your beer outshines the competition next time!! This year I wasn't aware, so I wished for something silly like my sister to pay me back the fiver she owes me haha.

  13. It IS a national disaster of great proportions! LOL! Oh dear...but what a delightful read on my end! :)

  14. oh, that is too funny but I don;t think he should gloat. It looks like you our pouring out his pee sample, so to speak. Not exactly a picture one wants to be seen as. LOL.

  15. I think I have this figured out, Alan. You spent way too much time worrying over a particular football team and not enough time whooping up your brew. :)

    "Whooping up" - I just made that up.
    I think I'll keep it - I like it!

  16. Sorry for the trauma :( Just get back on the horse and keep riding! You'll break that beer barrier eventually.

  17. I suspect the secret of Mark's success is that dirty tea towel he appraes to have fished out of the brew. Must give it body.

  18. "Ex-friend" seems a bit harsh! Try again, I say!

    "A failure establishes only this, that our determination to succeed was not strong enough."~Bovee

    "He is only exempt from failures who makes no efforts."~Whately

    "Sometimes a noble failure serves the world as faithfully as a distinguished success."~Dowden

    And here's one for "ex-friend" Mark( if you will )

    "If we had no failings ourselves we should not take so much pleasure in finding out those of others."~Rochefoucauld


  19. Oh dastardly day! You could have saved it for a beer hair rinse or gravy or even in batter for fish 'n chips? Oh the humiliation. Time to get back on the horse.


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...