Maybe it’s because I’m not too much of a fan of a bar that’s very crowded and noisy inside – years of playing in or watching live bands in small rooms has damaged my hearing a bit, and when there’s a lot of hubbub, babble and music in a crowded bar, I often can’t make out a word that is said to me.
Maybe it’s because I’ve a few friends who are smokers, and so sharing a beer with them almost inevitably means drinking out in the (not-so) clear air.
But, mostly, it’s just I like the feeling of being in the fresh air, being able to see the sky while I sup a nice drink and chat with friends.
Being a hardened Wellingtonian, provided there’s some cover and a bit of hopeful shelter from the wind I’m happy to be in the outside area of a bar in all seasons. Sure, I’d prefer warm summer or dry autumn, but chilly winter and damp spring are fine, too.
But it does help if the bar does have some heating to take the chill off the August night air.
I’m a particular fan of those fire table thingys. You know, the tall ones with a gas flame in a central well, that you can stand around (or sit on a high chair at), with your beer in front of you and the warmth from the flame gently warming both you and the beer against the chill winter air. (Googles – ah, they’re called “fire pit tables”! See, you learn something every day!)
My beloved Bin 44 used to have one of those tall gas fire pit tables, but it stopped working a while back. But this week, when I arrived for a quick after-work beer before heading into town, I was delighted to see a shiny new table had arrived, with a happy orange flame dancing from the well.
To celebrate, my friend and I ordered two pints of Yeastie Boy’s ‘Punkadiddle’. It’s a lovely wee drop, and one that at 3.7% won’t throw your evening into a spin if you have a few. It’s described as an “English Red Ale”, and while it is certainly red in colour I get more of a sense of it being a well made, sessionable English bitter. It’s got a lot of sweet and fruity hops coming off the top of a well rounded, almost nutty malty base, a combination of flavours I tend to associate with a traditional bitter.
But, the malt’s doing something a little bit else, which I guess is the Red Ale element; there’s an almost-sourness. Not unpleasant by any means, but a play between the hops and the reddish malt turns out a flavour that reminds me of a slightly old walnut; where the oils have gone slightly rancid, but not so much that they ruin the delicious nuttiness flavour.
As the glass warmed though, warmed by the dancing flame, this nice little beer just got more charming, the flavours melding smoothly into something almost like a light and fluffy pecan pie; but less sweet. I love a beer with a good taste of nuttiness, and the easy drinking Punkadiddle certainly gave me that flavour.
A great beer to drink while chatting with a friend beside an open flame, fending off the cold of a Wellington winter’s night, watching the run pour down onto the Queens Wharf plaza.
P.S. And, on the subject of Bin 44, congratulations to their Duty Manager Kieran O’Malley and his partner Abigail on the birth of their daughter Eden. Cheers, Kieran, Abigail and little Eden!