Saturday 29th September 2012 was a special day. Not only was it the day to help celebrate my wife's cousin's 40th birthday but the fact that we were to be kid-free for the night was also worth raising a glass to.....and so we did!
I managed to consume 10 very different beers throughout the course of the night. In fact, on this particular evening, I managed to add no less than 7 new beers to my ever-growing list of different beers.
The festivities were to kick-off at Fran & Dave's house at 7.30pm so, inbetween a light evening snack, sorting the kids out for their sleep-overs with relatives and getting ourselves ready in our glad-rags, I opened a bottle of Kooinda English Red Ale (4.7%). What a nice beer indeed. It went down a treat as did its cousin, Kooinda Milk Porter (4.7%) - one of the finest porters to have carressed my taste buds I might add.
We finally hit the road en route to Everton Hills albeit running 20 minutes late. No sooner had we pulled up at the birthday girls' house, hubby Dave offered me a beer. Dave is always an extremely good host. Being an extremely good guest, I accepted his offer and he handed me a Warsteiner, a 4.8% German lager that had somehow avoided my beer list until now.
Right on cue, ever-the-host Dave plopped a DAB in front of me just as the Warsteiner was coming to an end. A DAB is a German pilsner measuring in at 5.0%. In comparison to other Pilsners that I've had, this was very pleasant and accompanied the hot nibbles that decorated Fran & Dave's outdoor setting very, very well.
At 9pm our maxi-taxi driver arrived to shuttle the 9-strong group into Brisbane. Paddington to be precise. Our destination was The Lark. In true man-fashion, there were mutterings amongst the male contingent of a 'traveller' or a 'roadie' - essentially, a beer to take with us for the ride. The 4 of us blokes convinced Dave that it was a good idea to take yet more beer from his beer fridge. He agreed. Dave gave me a James Squire Golden Ale (4.5%) which I thought would do me very nicely indeed for the short hop to Paddington. We got as far as the end of his driiveway before the cab driver yelled out 'No bottles in the taxi please!'. We stood there in the darkness 'necking' the beer whilst the wives club - already on board - looked at us with disdain. Naughty boys.
Being the inquisitive beer aficianado that I am, I'd checked out The Lark's beer menu earlier in the evening whilst quaffing the Kooinda's. I'd never visited The Lark before but I wasn't let down by the beers on offer at all.
My first selection off the menu was a Lord Nelson Three Sheets Ale (4.9%). A very nice drop for a warm evening sitting outside in the venue's courtyard. A couple of the fellas followed suit. One liked it, one didn't.
Next for me was a Peroni Rossa (4.7%). Nothing particularly special about this beer but it was easilly drinkable at a table where chat was flowing faster than the cocktail that Fran knocked over.
It was at this stage that I simply had to break the seal. 7 beers in and I had to do it. Enough was enough. Using the toilets gave me a chance to see the rest of the establishment (which is an old converted colonial styled cottage circa 1888). The first floor was an open-planned, comfy, sofa and cushioned filled place to sit and relax. The area was inhabited at the time by a bunch of mates having a grand old time whilst drinking a few beers. Extremely relaxing.
After losing what would've been approximately 2.5 litres of grog down the pan to a Brisbane City Council water treatment facility (and jeez, I felt good) I started to ponder what beer would be next for me. I decided to go for a James Squire Amber Ale (5.0%) off the menu. I'd had it before on a number of occasions but I had a new feeling of emptiness and was ready for the rich malt taste.
I can't lie to you. I was starting to feel like I'd had a few beers by now. The time was 11.30pm and one of the staff kindly prompted us to order a drink if we wanted one more because last orders had been called. There was one beer on the menu that I'd been eyeing up all night - The Alhambra Reserva 1925. Even for it's strength of 6.4%, this beautiful Spanish beer from Andalucia is very gentle on the palate. It was my 9th beer of the evening - I wish it wasn't "Adios!" but our time at The Lark came to an end around midnight.
Apparently, Fran has always been somewhat of a party girl. Loves to dance. Next stop - The Paddington Tavern. I'd never been to 'The Paddo' before. Oh my goodness I don't think I'll ever go there again. I've seen some sights in my time - mainly in London - but this place was baaad. I couldn't decide on whether to have a XXXX or a XXXX or even a XXXX so I went for a Jim Beam & Coke instead. After we'd witnessed a hunched-over elderly gentleman constantly walking around looking for money and heard a band play out 3 tunes through blown speakers, it was time to leave - after a solitary drink. Thank goodness!!
Through the drizzly rain, we headed for The Caxton Hotel. I do not know why. I think the party girl just wanted to continue her celebrations and who were the rest of us to argue?
I thought The Paddo was bad but The Caxton is so very awful. It is here that I committed a cardinal sin. I confess...I drank a XXXX. Please don't hate me. One of our party insisted he get a round of drinks in and insisted that I joined him in 'savouring' a XXXX Bitter. I must've been more intoxicated than I thought. I am very embarrassed and sorry for what I did. All in the name of tasting different beers right? Is that a good enough excuse? Probably not.
It was shortly after the XXXX Bitter saga that a girl of no more than 26 years old was spotted wandering aimlessly around the place. As she passed me sitting on a stool (a bar stool that is - not excrement - I hadn't soiled myself or anything) I gently grabbed her by the shoulders so that we were face to face. I mouthed at her "Are you ok?". Her eyes were rolling around in her head and she was not 'with it' at all. It suddenly dawned on me that I was nearly a generation older than most of the people in The Caxton. She left shortly afterwards with friends in a cab. What a mess.
I was too bloated to drink any more beers. I'd had 10 so I sipped Jim Beam & Coke well into the wee small hours. Those of us that chose to party hard eventually got home and into bed at 4.30am Sunday. Hangover? Yes. Quite bad.
Poor Fran was up at 5.45am with her and Dave's kids.
Whilst I've made the latter stages of the night sound rather bleak and appalling, it goes without saying that we all had a wonderful night. I wouldn't have missed it for the world. It was great to be part of Fran's celebrations - I hope you had a good one Fran! Thanks to you both for putting us up also.