Substitute the word “beer” for “wine” in any of his character Miles’ quotes, and no doubt those words have escaped my mouth at some point in my life.
For those who have not seen the film (and please be warned of the upcoming spoilers, if that’s you), there’s a wonderfully poignant and tragic moment towards the end when Miles, upon discovering his ex-wife is pregnant to her new husband, retires to a fast-food restaurant and decants the pride and joy of his wine collection into a paper cup.
Wallowing in despair, Miles consumes a 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc by himself, convinced now that all his hopes of an occasion special enough to share it have been destroyed.
With the End of the World approaching this week, it got me thinking about that scene. My thoughts of these final days had turned to the treasured beers that we all have stashed at the back of our dark cellars, whether that be a shelf in a cupboard or a wine rack in the basement that has been properly appropriated to accommodate larger beer bottles instead.
What sort of occasion is quite grand enough to pop the cap on that one-off sacred bottle? If today’s Apocalypse isn’t such an occasion, I don’t know what is.
Now…I’m not an idiot. I’m well aware that the Mayans just became a little short-sighted when predicting the future; if George Orwell and Arthur C Clarke did it so comically then surely that’s all the Mayans really did too?
Regardless of what you believe is going to happen, I have a serious question for you:
If you wake up tomorrow morning and discover tall buildings have plummeted to the ground, all the wildlife is lying around dead, John Cusack’s in a helicopter surveying the damage, and there’s a wall of crackling fire seconds away from engulfing you and everybody you love – how stupid will you feel that you didn’t crack that case of Westvleteren 12?
I can’t imagine that everybody, like me, has a stash. After all, beer is not like wine: regardless of the quality, the alcoholic content or even those darlings of the beer geek – preservatives, things like temperature, light and microbes – will inevitably creep up to spoil the drop. But, if you really did have one more day on earth, what would be the beer to drink?
There is, of course, no shortage of ‘white whales’ in the beer world – aside from the above-noted Westy 12, there are limited releases, single batches, collaborative and celebratory brews, any one of which could happily be used to commemorate a day of reckoning.
In the US there is such an underground market for rare brews that eBay was recently forced to change their selling rules because so many people were circumventing the ‘no alcohol’ policy. But some are so prized and rare that they have to be served fresh, so even if they make it into bottles there’s scarcely one going around.
What I would give for another bottle of my all-time highest rated beer, the Love Buzz Saison from Anchorage Brewing, to crack open tomorrow. But the end of the world is certainly not a time to be ruing what you once had but have lost (or enjoyed), but to appreciate what you have.
The white (or at least whiter) whales of Australian brewing are plentiful, too: if you have had enough disposable income to acquire a Nail Clout Stout, or have stashed away one or more of Murray’s Anniversary Ales, think about inviting a mate around and popping the cap.
Speaking for myself, I think it’s finally time to break the troublesome wax seal on my last bottle of Hargreaves Hill’s Phoenix Red Ale and toast the impending doom.
If you’re so inclined, feel free to have a drink with me in spirit.
So long and cheers, the Cellar Door awaits.