On Thursday, Will paid me for some work I had done for “our” company. (Let’s face it: it’s his company and I just work for it.) I won’t tell you how much I was paid, because it would be embarrassing. But on our way back home, he was going the wrong direction. I asked him and he said, “I thought we were going to get you some beer?” That’s Will-speak for, “I want a beer and you are paying.” So we found ourselves at the grocery store. Will has little taste, but I decided to get a six-pack of Lagunitas NightTime. I’m very fond of Laguitas and I had never tried this particular brew — probably because it sells for about ten bucks a six-pack.
I explained to Will that I had reached a point in life (about twenty years ago) that I would rather spend twice as much to get a beer that I really like than get a beer I don’t especially enjoy. Will then proceeded to explain to me how he is just fine with this lemon beer he buys for $1.99 per six-pack. I told him I was not. But when we got back to my place, even Will had to admit that NightTime is a hell of a beer. (He knows quality when it is forced on him!)
Indeed, it is an amazing beer. Is it as good as the standard against which all beers are measured, Arrogant Bastard? I can’t say. Let’s just say that it is right around there. It’s impossible to say, regardless. They aren’t the same kind of beers. Like the philistine I am, I don’t know much about beer, but I know what I like. Let’s see if I can give you some idea of what it is like.
It is officially an “ale” — although darker than pretty much any ale I’ve seen before. It is notably darker than Arrogant Bastard. But its head is surprisingly light. It reminds me of Guinness, except that Guinness looks brown to me, and this looks black. (Note: it doesn’t taste at all like Guinness.) It doesn’t have that much in the way of a smell — some hops is all. And the flavor is “hoppy.” It also seems to have just a hint of — oh, I hate to say it — lemon. But there is a big difference between a hint and an overwhelming taste of lemon. NightTime has other flavors as well. That’s what I like about it: it has a complex taste. But I am not in a position to tell you what those flavors are.
This is a situation that I run into all the time. I’m just not very good at breaking down things into component parts. I’m intuitive. That’s even true with writing. Certainly I know a lot more now than I did twenty years ago. But there are cases when I just know one construction is better than another. The difference with beer is that I really don’t know more more than I did twenty years ago.
But NightTime is a really good beer. On the other hand, most of the people I know would hate it. It is the kind of beer that my grandmother would have noted, “It’ll put hair on your chest!” Of course, that isn’t literally true. I’ve made it all the way to saggy middle age without any notable hair on my chest. But that isn’t actually why I drink these kinds of beers.