My brain and I often don’t get along very well. It gives me these peculiar and mysterious and very annoying headaches way too often, for example. But one night, it served me up a dream about an iStout Ice Cream Float, and I was clever enough to take the hint. The label has suggested it since the beer was launched, but I’d never gotten around to having one. Silly, silly me. Clever brain for reminding me, in its feverishly weird way.
I was — in the dream, you understand — just hanging out with the Rolling Stones, initially talking about the lamentable state of music journalism. As you do. We got to pondering the difference between learned skill and natural talent — in music to begin with, but then in beer. I brought up Søren, the wizard from 8 Wired; sure, he’s had a lot of relevant university-level education and doubtless oodles of practice and slog, but it seems equally clear that there’s just something somehow inherently brewerish about the man. He can put you in mind of those musicians who are just that extra bit better than their peers but then also seem more relaxed and effortless at the same time. Since they’re Not From Around Here, the Stones didn’t know who I was talking about, so I set off — from wherever-the-Hell-we-were, in my dream — to fetch some iStout and some ice cream. And then I woke up.
Once properly alive — you know: after coffee — I wandered the long way to work, and grabbed the necessaries, fighting through that particularly-peculiar sort of déjà vu1 that comes with repeating the actions of a recent dream (without its more-surreal circumstances, of course). It was a Friday shift, and I wasn’t closing, so I knew I’d have some sit-down time to enjoy this when I was done. And I was burbling with excitement all evening; it just seems like such a deliriously decadent thing to do, some fabulous fusion of childish and grown-up treats. Which is how it turned out, really. It didn’t remotely disappoint.
iStout, on its own, is fantastic. It’s massive and glorious and rich and desserty (or at least nightcappy) all on its own. If you’ve never had one, sort that out tout suite. Buy two bottles while you’re at it, so you can have one of these the next night — or straight after, if you’re feeling a bit wild and have nothing to do in the morning (these are 10%, after all). It’s plenty big enough to not be overwhelmed by a generous dollop of good ice cream, and the two make for an awesome adults-only milkshakey masterclass in contrasts and complements. Depending on where you sip from, how much you prod the ice-cream-blob around the glass, or where you stick your spoon, you’re presented with a whole spectrum of flavour — from face-meltingly smooth chocolate loveliness right through to the face-punchingly awesome bitterness of a good Emergency Wakeup Coffee.
I’ll still concede that it sounds like a bit of a crazy thing to do, hurling a lump of frozen dairy product into your pint. But I absolutely insist that you try it.
Verbatim: 8 Wired ‘iStout’ Ice Cream Float 15/4/11 $12 @ Reg, Kapiti Choc/Vanilla $3 @ Star Mart. 10% 500ml. I had actual dreams about this. And it’s everything I ever wanted it to be — although the Rolling Stones aren’t here… The bitterness of the stout makes for awesomely unexpected curveballs of flavour to the face. It’s like a grown-up milkshake. I got looked at very strangely, making this. Partially for the ingredients — and camera, book + tripod — but also for the huge idiotic grin on my face. The bitter curveballs seem to be thrown from someone hiding in the bubbles — spoonfulls of foam have it most. Feeling tipsy after having a “milkshake” is odd.
1: Spookily-enough — and speaking of Oddities of the Brain — I was just consulting the Blessed Wikipedia to get the uppy and downy accents the right way round (High School French was a long time ago) and I stumbled upon the related weirdness of jamais vu. That’s apparently the thing I was talking about rather recently, wherein the known-to-be-familiar suddenly becomes somehow alien and strange; I got it while writing about Heather Ale’s ‘Grozet’ ale, and overusing the word “weird” (ironically).