When have you been in awe of food or drink? Did you prepare it, or did you eat this awesome dish at a restaurant? What was it about what you ate or drank that made it so fantastic?
I stepped through the door and shuffled to the side so that the people behind me could get in too. Get out of the rain. I waved to Nikki, behind the bar, took off my Mac and put it on a hook. By the time I got to the bar Nikki had wiped a spot clean and was setting a pint of Porter down for me.
“Bless ye lass,” I said, “yore an angel!”
She flashed her crooked smile and spun away to finish what she had been doing when I came in, and to see to the group that had come in behind me.
When she got back my beer was about half done and I was holding the glass up to the light admiring the clarity and the dark, reddish brown colour.
When she leaned forward over the bar I was momentarily distracted. “Look up here Mike,” she said pointing at her face. She smiled again and her blue eyes twinkled. High cheekbones, a small nose, and a full mouth were framed by soft blonde ringlets that spilled down past her shoulders. When she smiled she was the most beautiful woman in the world. And to top it off she worked in a pub. Not only was she the most beautiful woman in the world – she was the most perfect woman too.
“You know your phony accent isn’t getting any better.” She announced.
“Are you sure?” I asked, dropping the pretense, “I’ve been watching the BBC a lot. I’m trying to work on it.”
“I think you’re getting close to a hybrid between South Island Kiwi, and Irish.” She took off again to help her customers and I pondered my drink. Nikki had been the one to introduce me to this beer.
“Here’s one that will fill yer mouth when you take a drink,” she had told me when she drew my first, and she had been right.
A Porter is a robust, full bodied beer. I’m not sure where the name came from, unless it’s from the trains or the dock workers, but I did know that Porter was first brewed in the 1700’s and was the first engineered beer (not my term but an apt one), brewed as a blend of three different styles, old ale, mild ale and pale ale. The original brewers called it “Entire Butt”. When I first heard this I giggled like a young boy until I learned that a “Butt” was a unit of measure equal to half a tun. That makes it three barrels, 12 firkins, or 108 imperial gallons. Put in terms I understood this was about 490 liters or 130 US gallons of beer. I wished I had a “Butt” of Porter. I figured it would last me a good long while.
Savoring the full body of the beer and the smoky aroma I watched Nikki work the room, taking care of her customers. She glided effortlessly from table to table, taking orders and delivering orders. She knew everyone’s name. She knew their husbands, and wives. She knew their kids. She made them feel at home. I wondered if it was really the beer I liked or if it was the pub.
I knew what it was though, it was Nikki. She was the reason I liked the pub. She was the reason I liked the beer.