Craft Beer Stories – Test Pattern
Phillips Brewing & Malting Co.
Rice IPA, 6.9 %
Maybe it was just me, but the Phillips brewery in Victoria seemed to have anchored itself right on the edge between microbrewery and mass-manufacturer. Their beers were draught in every pub and even the smallest liquor stores would carry their six-packs. Compared to other big names in the city, Phillips was leading the market with various different six-packs, both cans and bottles, as well as mixer twelve packs. This was as close as you could get to be considered mainstream as a microbrewery.
Nonetheless, they still pumped out seasonal specials and limited edition beers to keep things fresh. So I took home a special limited release, one of their anniversary bombers. Unlike the brewery, however, I didn’t mean to make a big thing about it.
It was an ordinary day for me where I wanted to do nothing more than sit back and watch YouTube, a free video service with infinite content that replaced the need for an overpriced cable subscription which aimed to deliver infinite re-runs of The Big Bang Theory. I popped the lid off the bottle and played my videos.
To my surprise, the beer didn’t smell anything like rice and instead had a citrus aroma, which in turn did not present itself in the flavour. I wasn’t sure what to think of a beer that had more twists than an M. Night Shyamalan movie, but it was tasty and I wasn’t about to stop. That would be ridiculous.
Like any good IPA, this one too was accompanied by the familiar hoppy flavours, although it managed to stay very low on the bitterness. Every gulp went down easy, as smooth as YouTube’s video transitions when left on auto-play. I was half-way done with the bottle when I remembered that it was supposedly a strong beer with almost seven percent alcohol content. Something as smooth as this couldn’t be that strong, so I brushed it aside as yet another rug pulled under my feet.
I couldn’t remember how long it was that I just sat there, watching one video after another, drinking the beer straight out of the bottle, when I began to have a nervous feeling about this cozy situation. Something was not right. It didn’t feel right. But what was it?
The label on the bottle depicted a test pattern like TV’s used to back in the days when a channel didn’t have a signal. But the label was a bit off. The colours merged into each other from left to right, as if an invisible hand grabbed a tight hold of the picture and dragged it away. I took another sip. Why was I drinking out of the bottle? I normally used a glass, didn’t I?
I placed the bottle carefully on a table in front of me. A table that I didn’t remember being there just a minute ago. I got up and went to my kitchen, searching the cabinets. They were filled with all kinds of kitchenware, from plates to coffee mugs, and there were plenty of glasses, too. But somehow I thought that those weren’t right. I used a special glass, I knew that. Shaped like a flower of some sort. I had to find that glass to restore my memory, because I had the feeling that this wasn’t the only thing wrong with me today.
When I turned around, I almost walked right into the table. I was standing in the living room again. Table, TV screen, beer bottle, everything sitting there waiting for me. I took another swig of IPA and took the bottle with me through the narrow hall into my bedroom. It was an empty room with nothing but a bed and a dresser. Not the way I remembered it, but that didn’t bother me as much as the drinking glass issue.
There it was, a glass shaped like a tulip, sitting on the dresser across the bed. I sat down on the edge of the mattress and filled my tulip with delicious beer.
I didn’t remember starting the video that played in front of me, or how long I’ve been sitting on the bed, or why there was a TV in my bedroom. Something was going on here, and I had yet to solve the problem.
The review! That was it! That was weird! I mean, it was normal for a change, but that’s why it was weird. I would have never straight up reviewed the form and flavour of a beer like that. No, instead I would have entangled it in a convoluted fictional story that vaguely represented my experience with the tasty brew.
Just as I discovered this, the video stopped abruptly. A test pattern appeared on the giant screen. I didn’t remember having a TV as big as the wall of my bedroom. The colours called out to me as they flickered. Then I flickered. I felt my own colours being dragged away by an invisible hand.
Rating: One semi-successful simulation out of ten