On a recent Friday, after my only class, I headed over to the campus community garden, where I got the bottom of my shoes muddy as well as one of my hands, while mostly just conversing with the dozen or so other gardeners. After a break for lunch, I attended a gathering at the First Peoples House, which was full of dancing, singing and feasting. Later on I had plans to meet some friends at the campus movie theatre to see La grande bellezza (The Great Beauty), but as they arrived early, and there was left over food being offered to all people, my friends joined me for some salmon and rice. As we walked across campus to the movie theatre, my one friend and I vowed not to waste any food at all, so we stuffed our mouths one handful at a time with fish and rice. I am hoping we did not make too much of a mess; it was ridiculous!
I am no film critic, but The Great Beauty was a very entertaining film, which could be viewed as a pretty picture that allows the viewer to escape into the fun of a party, or as a serious film about the search for meaning in life. Despite not having seen any of the other nominated foreign films for that particular Academy Award, I can say I am not surprised that The Great Beauty triumphed.
My friends then invited me to join them at a party following the film, and I accepted their offer, going with them to the liquor store. Once there, I knew what I wanted, the only beer that had been on my mind for the past couple of weeks, a Spinnakers ESB! A minor flashback is necessary here, to explain my recent obsession. About a month ago, I finally made my first journey across the Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria, also affectionately known as the “Blue Bridge,” which crosses the water into Esquimalt. This bridge was a finalist in the “most beautiful sound in the world” contest. Take a listen here. One of Victoria’s finest pubs is Spinnakers brewpub, which is just across the bridge, and I had heard many a legendary tale about it from my father, who has been known to visit Spinnakers on his trips to Victoria since the 1980s. My first visit did not disappoint, as I ate a tasty snack, and drank their wonderful ESB. I didn’t take tasting notes that evening, but I couldn’t forget it’s wonderful taste. And so, I subsequently bought a bottle a week later, and introduced it to my salmon and rice faced friend one night. The next time I saw him, he told me that he had bought a bottle of it on his own, and paired it with 3 to 4 shots of Polar Ice Vodka. That sounded absolutely absurd to me, but I made sure to remember his pairing. So as we were at the liquor store, I decided to purchase a mickey of the vodka in question, along with a 22oz bottle of the ESB, because after all, we were going to a university party.
On our subsequent walk to the party, there was a big flash of light, and all the power went out along that section of the street; the apocalypse was nigh! We reached the house and found that it had lost power as well, setting off one of the most anthropologically interesting parties of my life. The initial darkness caused people to mingle less with strangers than is customary at university parties, as people were unable to see others properly and stuck together in small groups of pre existing friends. There was a classic game of candlelit beer pong going on, and people huddled around flashlights in various rooms of the house. I followed suit, and stayed with my friends, drinking my ESB while watching them draw by flashlight. We then took tasting notes, paired with a few swigs of the unsavoury rubbing alcohol tasting vodka.
Nose: Hops and creme brûlée.
Palate: Hops, granola and cereal.
Finish: Black pepper and tonic flavours. The strongest hop taste of the beer, lingering and beautiful.
After my drinks, and presumably after a few drinks for everyone else as well, the dynamics of the party began to change. Instead of huddling together in groups of friends, people began to mingle with others. Most people still ended up congregated in groups, since there were limited light sources, and it really was very dark in that house, but people now went from group to group with much more frequency. Because it was near impossible to properly see anyone’s facial features, clothing details, and hair styles, there was far less physical judging than is usual at a party, and that is a beautiful thing. It put everyone on an equal playing ground, and made meeting strangers a very exciting aspect of the party. My two cents from that evening: Spinnakers ESB is such a good beer that it doesn’t require vodka, and there should be more lights out parties!