Sunday 17 February 2008

The past 40 beers of my life

Over the past 40 beers of my life, I’ve learned so many important lessons. Allow me to share them with you, gentle 40b40 reader.

First, I’ve learned that 40 is a very big number. 40 days last forever, let alone 40 years. Over the past 40 days, all sort of things have been happening. One friend of mine was beaten brutally and left for dead on the frozen steppe. Another friend had a baby. About a dozen people I know found new jobs, including Seb, who is hopefully in Côte d’Ivoire knocking back Flags right now. (Flag, of all things! What a fate for our very own Trappist and Regional Brewery Analyst...)

Second, variety takes serious planning. Trying to schedule a new beer every day was much harder than I ever imagined. The detailed shopping lists, the precision party planning...

Third, experimentation leads to experience. With a dopey Gumpian nod, I have to admit that, at first, life is indeed like a variety pack of Belgian beers: you never know what you’re going to get. The 40b40 introduced me to some great beers -- but also some not so great ones. I was also forced to re-evaluate some beers I knew: some went up in my view, and some went down.

Fourth, I've come to accept myself for what I am: a lover of dark sticky beers rather than the strong blond ales.

Fifth, an experienced guide can still lead you down a wrong path. Michael Jackson was a great promoter of Belgian beers, but he was not a critical connoisseur. Fact is, when I look through his famous book, I cannot find one criticism of any brand. He loved it all.

Sixth, I have more inner strength than I realised. When faced with a crisis of will -- at about beer number 23 or so -- I found untapped reserves and came through it remarkably well considering the tragedy that could have befallen me.

Finally, and most importantly, I’ve realised that no man is an island in life’s lake of beer. If it hadn’t been for the support of good friends, especially Fiona, I never would have made it. Thanks to all.

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