Following the ‘Beer Playoffs’ over the weekend, it was finally time to head back to the airport. Unfortunately the flight was significantly delayed… Of course, there’s only one thing that can counter such a frustrating situation – to the airport bar!
It was an extremely small airport that I was travelling from; only a couple of amenities and a ‘departure lounge’ that could fit in a bottle cap, so I wasn’t expecting a huge amount of variety on offer behind the bar. In bars all over the world I have enjoyed conversations with bar staff. I know they can have a really tough job sometimes, having to deal with impolite customers and drunken antics, so I always make sure I am polite, friendly and grateful. With this in mind, I smiled at the barwoman as I approached the bar and I asked what lagers they had to offer. She did not return my smile, looked annoyed that I hadn’t just placed an order immediately and resentfully rhymed off the names of various big brand beers. I quickly realised that I had tried all of them previously. “Oh…..” I responded, the list wasn’t exhaustive, but that summed up the available collection behind the bar. When I select a beer I try really hard to pick up something new as I want to explore what’s available. I stood on the metal bar situated just above the ground at the base of the bar in order to prop myself over the edge to look at the lower shelves of the fridge. The majority of the beers I had previously come across, but to my relief, I then saw what could be a potential gem of a drink!
I asked for a bottle of “Spitfire” and the server asked for my ID. I replied – “No worries” and started to fumble around for my licence (meanwhile wondering when this would finally stop occurring given that I am now 25). Whilst searching in my wallet, I continued my order, but I don’t think she computed any further information until I proved I was of age (the other part of the order was just a G&T!). She sighed impatiently as I handed over my drivers licence and asked me to repeat the order. I was beginning to feel like an unwelcome guest at this bar…
After a couple of attempts of completing my order (I think my Scottish accent may have produced a slight communication barrier), I was asked if I wanted a glass. I said that I did, but before I knew it the beer had been poured into the glass and the bottle was being thrown away! I rose up higher against the bar and quickly alerted her: “Can I have the bottle over please?” I asked. The woman looked really confused and almost offended at the prospect of me wanting to see the bottle. I didn’t have the energy to explain my reasons, i.e. blog posting, untappd check in (in which you can scan the barcode to find a beer and read its features and a bit about the brewery whilst sampling the new beverage), so I just said “Please?” whilst trying to form a sympathetic smile. She cautiously handed me the bottle, begrudgingly replaced the tonic (I think whenever I say the word “slimline” white noise just comes out of my mouth ’cause it always seems to be overlooked) and I returned to my partner at our table.
We got a couple of decks of cards out for a game during the delay. I twisted the bottle to read its full description: burnt caramel-toffee notes and bitterness. Interestingly, I found out from the bottle’s label that the brewery, Shepherd Neame, is in fact Britain’s oldest brewery! I’ve only recently started to get into bitters and “real ales”, but my taste buds are growing to like them more and more with each drink I try.
The drink certainly matched the label. It poured a toffee colour, with a contrasting white head on top of the ale, and further toffee notes were caught on the nose prior to sampling. A sweetness was the initial sensation when I took my first sip, before a bitter caramel flavour carried the rest of the brew through. It was great. I was really impressed with the drink having a decent mix of both sweet and bitter elements, which complemented and heightened one another.
Rating: 4.25/5. It had a great mix of sweet and bitter notes, nice on the nose and kept us company whilst playing cards.
Following this bitter, it was evident (thanks to a series of uninformative announcements from the useless airline) that I was not leaving the airport any time soon, so it was back to the bar to meet my new best friend – the barwoman! I approached cheerfully, hoping her mood may have improved, and asked for one of the local beers on draught. She didn’t say a word to me as she served me, but her body language spoke volumes – how could a customer have the audacity to order a drink? At a bar?! Unheard of. To make matters worse, to my shock/horror, this is what I was given…….
If I wanted a beer that flat, I would have gone home, opened a beer, put it in a glass and drank it two weeks later. Now, we know at this stage that asking for another may have resulted in the barwoman mauling me, so I rapidly retreated to my aforementioned table and sat glumly with my ‘pint’.
Here’s a picture of how it should have arrived:
Rating: ? Unfortunately, I can’t formally review the Fortyniner as I know that this was far inferior to how it might perform if served elsewhere. I will therefore reserve judgement and try to catch it again at another point!
Luckily, after a delay of 3 hours, we were finally able to board the plane, so didn’t have to risk being served again by the barwoman who obviously hadn’t quite taken to me… It makes me realise how much the bar staff can impact the overall experience of being in a pub or bar!
Let me know what you’re drinking, what you want reviewed and different beers that you’ve seen during your travels!