I’ve given up being surprised by life’s odd twists and turns. Ride the rollercoaster and hope the brakes work.
Those beers at Mikkeller have, against all expectations, livened me up a bit. Or was it that Laphroaig stiffener in my room?
I’ve a long taxi ride ahead of me. All the way to Oakland. On the unfashionable side of the bay. Affordable side of the bay might be a better description. Those fucking yuppie bastards* are fucking up all the world’s great cities.
A California Mild tasting is not so much down my street as off down the motorway, around the ring road, heading for Folkestone and the Chunnel. Talking about the history of Mild? My family haven’t managed to stop me doing that yet. Despite making very clear statements about the fate of certain of my body parts should I persist.
It’s an effing long bridge to Oakland. And a much less sexy one than the Golden Gate. I watch anxiously as the dollars tick up on the meter. I’d take a photo. If I weren’t so hypnotised by the meter. And calculating how many of my rucksack of books I’ll need to sell to afford the return fare.
What do I expect of Hog's Apothecary? Not sure. I could easily have perused the exterior on the internet. Now, why didn’t I do that? Because you’re a lazy arse, Ronald. Oh yes, I remember now.
Square box of a windowy thing, the pub. With a big open skylight. Look it up yourselves if you’re so interested. I’ve Mild to drink, Mild to discuss and . . . Mild to tap? Er, no thanks . . . not while it’s frothing crazily through the soft spile. Had a beer shower before. Way less fun than it sounds.
Only two cask Dark Milds**, instead of the promised three. Still two more than I would have expected to find in California. And the missing Mild has an Ordinary Bitter substitute.
Today’s talk is informal. Or me talking loudly about whatever comes into my head. Bit like an evening down the pub. Where I cling onto the talking stick all night. Maybe that’s why I find it less scary than I should.
A year is a long time. In Brooklyn I was close to pebbledashing my trollies when given 5 minutes’ warning of “an informal chat” of 30 minutes. Like much we fear, it’s not that scary when you look it in the eyes.
We’re all a knotted skein of neuroses. Attracting the attention of the wait staff wracks me with angst. Chatting with a single stranger, too. But standing in front of 20, 50 or 100 strangers, talking beer, doesn’t.
I linger a little, trying to flog some books. But when I’m offered a lift back to San Francisco, even the prospect of free beer can’t hold me. My eyes are still watering from the taxi fare out here.
I don’t go directly to my hotel. Instead getting dropped at my second porcine-themed pub of the day, Hogwash. I spot an old friend on the menu:
Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA
The cask version of this in Portland left me an albino Dalmatian. One of my top beers of 2014. The keg version is full of juicy loveliness. But not as good as the cask. How could it be? One of the things I loved about it were its suicidal tendencies with regard to my throat.
I’m lucky to have got a seat. Probably the most unfashionable in the joint. But at least I’m seated. I forgot to eat at Hog's Apothecary. What’s on the menu here? Nothing I feel like eating, sadly. Unusually for me, I just have the one, and head up Sutter Street in search of food.
At least finding my way back to my hotel will be easy. It’s on the same street as Hogwash.
Falling asleep is even less of a problem than usual.
The Hog's Apothecary
375 40th St,
Oakland, CA 94609.
582 Sutter St,
San Francisco, CA 94108.
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