The lines are closed, the votes are in, and the general consensus is that my splendidly self-indulgent 40th birthday bash as outlined here was a great success. Everyone drank beer, and almost everyone liked almost all of it.
There were a few hiccups, of course. The Mort Subite Oude Gueuze raised a few eyebrows, and I was happy that there was a jug of cassis on hand to soften it for those who found it a bit challenging. It was a great reception beer though, and went well with all of the canapes.
I had the duck confit terrine to start, served with Chimay Premiere, and it was a killer match. The richness of the duck and the tang of the pickled beetroot worked brillantly with the soft fruitiness of the Chimay. Even a hardened wine veteran gave it a go, and pronounced it a great success.
My main of pork with apple and vanilla sauce was good, although the Schneider Weisse was a bit heavy for it. Grolsch Weizen might have been a perfect match - oh well, you live and learn. However, everyone went nuts for the cheese course, served with 2005 Fuller's Vintage Ale, and rightly so. The beer had just the right amount of age on it, with an incredibly smooth richness to it, malt and hops integrated into a seamless fusion of flavour that was somewhere between ale and some sort of crazy sherry/port hybrid. Sensational.
By the time dessert rolled around (and I use the term rolled to reflect my physical state as much as anything else), everyone was past their best - the cheese course had done them in. But my match of Black Forest gateau and Ola Dubh 40 was great, a good flavour match, although perhaps a tad on the rich side for anyone without a bovine complement of stomachs. I left some cake and finished the beer, the only sensible thing to do under the circumstances.
Look, I know you're reading this blog because you're interested in beer, and unless something terrible happens to you, you've got a birthday coming up within the next twelve months. Why not find a local restaurant who will let you bring beer in for a corkage charge, buy a copy of The Brewmasters Table, and put a menu together with the restaurant? Have yourself a cheery beery birthday - it was more fun than I ever thought it could be. Just don't give people a choice of what to drink.
That picture of a ravaged plate of cheese and a spent bottle of Fuller's 2005 Vintage Ale lines me up nicely for a report on a visit to Chiswick's finest. Watch this space.