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Beer Review: Prancing Pony and Smiling Samoyed at the Normanville pub

Perhaps we should’ve been in Shit Creek.

For on the table were not one but two paddles. Brett had one and I had the other, and both wooden planks were holding six glasses of craft beer. We’d soon be rowing at the Olympics.

I love a weekend away with a big group and down in Carrackalinga we had seven adults and seven kids. I like how some things are done together, but other excursions occur with just one or two. Earlier Max and I had swung by the Yankalilla bakery for a Cornish pasty and sausage roll before pulling in at the oval and watching the local B grade cricket for half a dozen overs. We saw one wicket and some decidedly exotic swatting. The boundaries were long and the outfield, lush. Runs were scarce.

Following a walk down the beach it was suddenly late afternoon and six of us gathered in the Normanville pub’s beer garden. Having it to ourselves invested the episode with enhanced novelty and occasion.

The first craft beer was an XPA from the Prancing Pony Brewery. While we agreed that it included citrus, melon and berry flavours the tasting notes’ proposal that passionfruit was present became controversial.

Claire tried it and said, “But there’s no actual passionfruit!” Someone retorted that it was only redolent of it, that it might simply be a metaphor, or point of sensory reference. Claire was insistent, if not incensed.

A few impassioned minutes on passionfruit followed.

Built in 1851 the Normy is among the state’s oldest pubs and there by the veranda we all admired the beautiful tiling while inside each dining room was magnificent lead lighting.

Next up was the Germanic Kolsch which may have suffered from poor sequencing as someone, possibly Leonard, described it as having, “dreadful nanna fruit.” I found it sharp. Its bitterness was like one of our group (Claire) missing out on being Dux of Year 12 by one point out of 500: lingering and irreconcilable.

However, Claire liked the mango beer that was a New England India Pale Ale. It had the fruitiness of a Carry On movie, but I found it undrinkable. If it illustrated the best of Boston then maybe we should’ve retrieved the tea (c.1773) from the harbour floor and had our own party. A voice from another chair pleaded that it had the generic characteristic of, “orchard fruits.” I sipped again, my face deforming like I was on the rocket sled of a 1950’s NASA experiment.

JB then told us of how, minutes before arriving at the pub, she’d been dumped by a large and uncaring wave. Happily her son, Oliver, showed an appropriate level of human concern while some of us nodded with nebulous sympathy, but quickly returned our attention to the paddles.

The 12 Paws Pale Ale was met with ambiguity. In an obvious attempt to make it into this blog, Brett described the beer as being, “indistinguishable from most other pale ales” regardless of the number of paws quantified in its name.

The afternoon galloped on and we’d a barbeque to ignite and charades to punctuate our evening so we adhered to the equine theme of this paragraph and tried the Prancing Pony Brewery’s India Red Ale which clocks in at a Phar Lap-sized 7.9%. The notes promised, “caramel characters” but Claire was firm: no likey. Brett voted it champion beer of our session. I could see its appeal, but for me it mostly represented a disagreeable chore, like compulsory attendance at a death metal music festival.

A couple of punters joined us in the beer garden. In the front bar somebody laughed. A distant mobile phone buzzed: we need milk.

Our final refreshment was a dark ale from the Smiling Samoyed Brewery just up the hill in Myponga. It whispered of roasted dark chocolate and black Arctic nights and a plaintive, strummed mandolin, or maybe just beer.

Our convoy then stretched up the hill towards our holiday house.