Sep 22, 2023
Sep 22, 2023
by Sudeshna Ray
On a first date, one would not think of going to a brewery, but that is what I did.
An intense downpour was blocking our view of the path ahead and seemingly destroying our plans for our first formal date. A brewery tour sounded like a great plan for us, after already spending hours jabbering away about all things possible in the last few days. Along with the gushing sound of water gushing down, a faint fog appeared from nowhere making the sky murky - gloomy yet mesmerizing at the same time. “If we’ve got to reach on time, we’ve got to leave right now,” I said.
Our shoes were drenched in water, and each step made a ripple as we hurried to an auto. He held a bright blue umbrella while perfect drops dripped down the ribs of the canopy wetting our sleeves. An hour-long auto ride didn’t seem long at all as we started yapping away. As the auto wheels slushed noisily through pools of water, we spoke even louder as we talked about things that fascinated us, and those that didn’t. As usual, we agree and argue to no end. Suddenly, we pause to stare. We hold hands and let the silence speak.
How we go from being over-energetic peers to Zen in our personal space is something that puzzles me every day. No wonder we’d find a brewery tour to be a cool place to hang out. In reality, ‘where we went’ wasn’t the point as long as it was ‘us’. “Two hours of driving to and back from the destination with you is date enough for me,” he said while glancing at me contently.
The auto halted with a jerk near the Great State Ale Works, at Koregaon Park in Pune. It is still pouring. We’ve got to be a little crazy to have come so far… to spend time… that we would have done anyway! He loves beer and I don’t. He wants to let nostalgia hit back as he gulps a few drinks at his favorite spot in town and maybe help me look at beer beyond what I had known it to be.
The brewery tour begins with us being two curious kids just like we are in class. “Stop taking detailed notes in your head,” I tell myself as we walk across the place. Intently listening to the elaborate steps of how beer is brewed, I managed to catch a quick glimpse of condensed drops of water racing down a boiler. We head to the tap room for sampling the beer.
As someone who’s always thought that beer can’t be inebriating, in retrospect, drinking on an empty stomach wasn’t the best idea. I taste this brew with bitter notes and a ‘party in my mouth’ aftertaste. This isn’t beer! It just rolls around my mouth making me wonder what it tastes like and keeps me going back for more.
Ten shot glasses later the tasting ends with me lightheaded and longing for some food. We pull seats at a corner table at the rooftop diner. At this point, the rain is just a constant in the background. Drops are splattered across the wooden table and the sky is dusky. He lights a smoke, chatting candidly with a friend as I watch him. A few drinks and many conversations later we decide to head back.
He held my hand as we walked to our ride. The drive back was unlike the previous one - just quiet and comforting this time around. I rested my head on his lap as he rested his on my shoulder with his arms around me. Tired after a long day, we spoke very little slipping in and out of quick naps on the way.
We get off at our destination walking on the same puddled path. I walked boisterously, splashing mud onto our jeans and our matching white shoes. He is surprised at my uncharacteristic candor. It is the beer or maybe it's him.
Being back after a fulfilling day we know we’ve got to get back to work. While sitting down with our laptops to get started on our work for the day I glance at him from the corner of my eye. When we can play hard and work harder together, the taste of such a friendship leaves one perplexed, like the feeling the beer engineered wanting me to go back for more. Craft beer is my type now; so is he!
More by : Sudeshna Ray