I recently finished reading an excellent Australian literary journal called Heat and it had a piece on a fellow called William Stanley Jevons. Jevons is remarkable for many reasons, but what amused me about the essay was that on Christmas Day, he went to a pub and paid an appropriate fare for a traditional Christmas dinner. You know how the English love their traditions: while English-born myself, I have never quite understood why on Earth the traditional festive roast remains so popular. This country, as I like to point out like the whingeing Pom I am, is bloody hot. I could definitely get into the whole seafood platter as an Aussie Christmas thing instead of turning the kitchen into a furnace.
Back to Jevons. He is at the table and seated with a pretty lady. Too shy to talk, he downs a pint of stout to attract her attention, and invariably impress her. Silly fellow. Stout is not a beer for downing quickly, and not in the heat. Also, he didn’t impress her.
Interestingly enough, I was a girl once impressed by stout: and a rough one at that – the Abbotsford Invalid Stout.
It was a second date of sorts. I had invited my date to my place for a Joy Division listening session. It had come up in conversation that I’d never tried the AIS. My date showed up, with a bottle in tow, and had sweetly tied a piece of old-fashioned twine around it in a bow. It seemed pretty evident that both of us were as nervous as hell. Less so, once conversation moved to the beer. The AIS is what I lovingly refer to as a ‘rough worker’s stout’ and not at all to belittle it. Yes, it’s cheap, and perhaps beer snobs may say plain nasty.
I have a soft spot for it. I expect to be shunned from now on by true beer gourmets.
The other day, Control was on telly (the biopic on Ian Curtis, Joy Division’s front man) and I asked that same fellow if he wouldn’t mind buying me some AIS – pure coincidence! He made me a ‘Black and Tan’ – am informed that this is largely ¾ lager, ¼ stout. Feel free to edit to your taste, of course. It was only fitting that seeing we were using AIS, we used an equally ‘rough Tan’ – so we pinched a remaining Carlton Cold from my father’s stash. I must say, I rather liked the ‘Black and Tan’. It’s like shandy, but for the manly! Alas, couldn’t get my father to try it – he looked very suspiciously at it.
I rather wish I made some for Australia Day just passed. Not to worry, I sunk down ‘tinnies’ of Toohey’s New instead, giggle. I wasn’t about to refuse free beer.