For a couple of weeks I had been plagued by toothache, which progressed into jaw ache/headache/neck ache so bad that I couldn’t go to work. After finally securing an emergency appointment with the dentist, he gave his grim prognosis: “Your wisdom tooth’s impacted and you have an infection. You need to take these antibiotics and buy a medicated mouth wash. DON’T DRINK ALCOHOL.” Woe!
The course of antibiotics was five days, with 48 hours after that to allow them to leave my system. I think the last time I was sober for seven days straight was probably when I was about fifteen… This was going to be a challenge, but it was one that I would gladly face to stop the toothache.
Surprisingly, a few sulks aside, the first part of the week was relatively easy, even though I had a number of beers sitting in my fridge, calling to me in their siren voices… Friday night, however, was the biggest challenge. Behind the bar in the city centre, with Oskar Blues Deviant Dale’s on tap. Bloody hell. We also had a number of beers on which I hadn’t tried before, so I lived vicariously through the tastebuds of my colleagues and got them to describe the beers to me. Absolutely torturous, as was Saturday night, when I had to sample a beer to check someone’s assertion that it was different than usual. Retreating to a dark corner, I used the wine tasting method – sipped, swilled, and spat. Heartbreaking. Staff drinks after those shifts were a bit of a trial too; I sat there nursing my energy drink and waiting for my lift while everyone around me was enjoying a well deserved beer. The Sunday evening was a long one; dinner with the in-laws. Lovely to see them and to be cooked for, of course, but it’s generally a pretty boozy occasion, and sipping flavoured water rather than the usual wine and pear cider which accompanies those dinners felt thoroughly unfair.
Finally the seven days of sobriety were over, and it was time to crack open a bottle. The beer chosen for this honour was De Molen Pale Ale Citra (4.8%), and my tasting notes were urgently scribbled in unusually florid language (review to follow soon). A week without hops is a long time! I thought I’d want to race through the beer, glugging it, but surprisingly I found myself treating it in a more restrained manner – it’s as though my palate had been re-set, with the hop bitterness being almost overwhelming at some points.
I might repeat this little exercise again in the future (hopefully without the pressing need for antibiotics to force me), as having that shock of bitterness actually make you sit up and take notice is a rare luxury for us hop-jaded craft wankers, and taking the hit of a few days without booze is well worth it.