The taste of your memories

As the days get longer and the year opens up its arms to fresh opportunities, I find it opens up boxes of memories. Doors in the past that opened, roads taken, adventures had. A few years and a whole lifetime ago, I went to Belgium and rode the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, one of the opening races of the pro cycling season. With short notice and minimal winter training under my belt, it was always going to be tough.

Hang in for the first fifteen minutes, they said. I hung in, I hung on. I was exhilarated - I was doing it! And then, suddenly, I was lagging - stuck behind a crash, and in a crash and then - alone. It was quite liberating, slogging away through the countryside on my own for a few miles. I started to enjoy the ride. Round a corner, a man in the road. Flagging me down. I stopped, climbed off my bike, and into the bus. The unceremonial appearance of the broom wagon surprised me, lurking round that corner. It knew that I would come, and it would take me. On the bus sat the muted remnants of the race, spent and exhausted, a quiet collective reflection on the many faces of failure. I found a teammate and we compared our races and traded excuses.

This is the beer that I drank after that race. The one that tasted of hard-won achievement, and of bitter disappointment. It tastes of ripped kit, missed opportunities, of everything left on the road. It tastes like the knowledge that there will be other races, other chances, other futures.

It’s not that beer, of course. It tastes nothing like it, but what do your memories taste of?

Drink it and raise a glass to your heroes.

What does it really taste like?

It’s a dry-hopped Belgian pale ale. It’s got spicy, fruity, ester-y Belgian yeast notes, dry hopped with Hallertau Blanc and Mandarina Bavaria to give a fruity hopped note.

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