It was cold. Jackets, hats, and scarves cold. A light wind was blowing fresh snow around the quiet streets of the Glebe. The four of us were on a journey to our favorite pub, The Arrow and Loon. We have been visiting the Arrow since second year university, whenever we could afford it. That night I couldn't really afford it, but that night I didn't really care.
The Arrow wins our vote because of its ever-changing, ever-intriguing beer menu. They have kegs and casks sourced from local microbreweries and often serve drinks you can’t find anywhere else. The place was quiet when we arrived, just a few people at tables and a few more at the bar. We went to the table farthest from the door. Like me, my friends preferred to avoid being at the center of things.
The first round brought me a forgettable stout. It wasn't bad, just a little boring. It tasted like espresso, but with no malty sweetness or hoppy bitterness to round out the experience. It felt flat. If I were alone at home I would have let out a sigh. I would have cast my gaze into the middle-distance and, resigned to disappointment, sink into the pensive shell of myself.
There was no time for brooding that night. The first round loosened our lips and got us talking. We passed our beers around the table and compared tasting notes like yuppie connoisseurs. And as we chatted and laughed I felt good. The reckless pace of life we are constantly grinding against slowed to a crawl, stopped sliding away so quick, and I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.
Our second round was something special. I got a pint of Lake Effect IPA from Great Lakes Brewery, and it was sublime. It opened with the strong taste you expect from an IPA, the kind of taste you can almost stand on, but washed away its own bitterness. It was one of the easiest drinking IPAs I've had in a long time and my glass was emptied far too quickly. I relaxed.
Across the table my friends were sipping Flying Monkey’s Chocolate Manifesto Milk Stout. Which both looked and tasted like a big foamy glass of dark-chocolate milk. And with 10% alcohol they relaxed too. The conversation turned to life. Where we were at and where we were going. What was expected and what we expected. That’s when somebody said it, the most important words of the evening,
“You know guys, I’m pretty happy right now.” And he was right. I probably spend too much time examining what I want out of life and not enough time accepting what I’m offered. That night I was offered good friends, good laughs, and good beer, and you know what? I’m pretty darn okay with that.
P.S. I’m sorry this post wasn't sad. It just couldn't be. Maybe Donovan Woods can console you. His sad and beautiful melodies have been helping me get into the right head-space for this blog. He’s a gifted musician who deserves a bit of love.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/craigmarren/12506959033/
Conor is not an alcoholic. He is an engaged and passionate person who does about half as much distraught navel-gazing as this blog would suggest. He has an aptitude for communication and a passion for storytelling. When he finds he has free time he plays silly games and enjoys good beer.