So I finally got round to experiencing 1976 even though it took me forty one years. One of the reasons it’s taken so long is because I wasn’t born until the year after. Elvis left the building in 1977 – that gig was then passed to me.
We’ve had almost two months of uninterrupted sun. I wonder whether it’s possible for adverse weather to permanently change a person’s palate.
I read the mind-rogering A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women by Siri Hustvedt earlier this year, and a passage keeps coming back to haunt me:
“It is fascinating to note that in the field of epigenetics there is mounting evidence that environmental stress on an animal creates molecular changes after DNA replication. The nucleotide sequence of the genes is not directly affected but gene expression or suppression is. Such changes, it appears, can be inherited, not forever, but for more than one generation”
This implies genetic mutation can happen within an organism’s lifetime rather than vertically through its descendants.
So what does this have to do with beer?
Well this year, fruited Gose toppled Pilsner Lager as the beer to drink in the swelter of summer for me and I’m feeling a bit guilty. My DNA might have been altered to make me more susceptible to this tart counterintuitive beverage. Because up until now, I’ve never taken to Gose as a style.
It’s specifically North Brewing Co’s fruited Goses that have inspired me to write this post. I had each from a can straight from the fridge. Though it wasn’t the best value beer I’ve had this year (that honour goes to a pint of cellar-cool fruity McMullen AK at the Railway Tavern in Hertford), it’s definitely one of the most satisfying.
The noble chameleon clutches fast to the wilting twig. Its bulbous eyes move independantly of eachother, yet are overseen by a common drive. Irises fix both up and down, left and right, near to far. A blood-red tongue shoots out; prey is ingested. Scales flush to mimick their surroundings, the prehensile tail coils tightly into a fist…..
That chameleon is me now as I survey the offerings of cask ale on beer engines in one direction, and the psychadelic labels of craft beer pulsating in the chillers of the other. I’ve become bi-zythotic.
I first had Gose in 2014 (in this case, unfruited) under one of the Bermondsey railway arches. It bothered me at the time because of the addition of salt. I couldn’t help feel that the beer had been drunk once already, passed through the system and re-kegged.
Last year I wrote about my distaste of fruit Lagers as the fruit too easily overpowers the style (especially of the Pilsner variety). This argument could be extended to cover over-hopped IPA Lagers too.
And yet some styles of beer actually cry out for fruit. Sours can be enjoyed neat – as can plain yoghurt. But what we really want is to fold over that plastic corner, squooze the sweet fruity goo into the white, swirl it around with a spoon and make pretty marbly patterns.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’ll do.
Salt shouldn’t be refreshing, but it works in odd ways. Those bottles of Evian or Volvic that are chugged through desperate grunts during the heatwave all contain sodium. Though the water slakes your short-term thirst, it also sets you up for a longer-term drought. If it wasn’t for the fact I know these international brands exist only to offer us love and succour, I could swear salt gets added just to make us buy more of their products.
So even though Gose has salt, there’s also that soothing lactose duvet that irrigates the parched wasteland gullet of summer. It douses like a balm – the cream-badged fire extinguisher containing foam for combustible materials and liquids (but not for gases, metals, electrical equipment or deep fat fryers – always read the label).
And don’t worry – though my palate might have undergone mutation through environmental stress, I’m not about to go full craft. Still just good old uncle Alec here.
I wonder what I’d look like with a man bun……..