It was on the train home afterwards that I finally realised what the barman in the Craft Beer Co had been trying to tell me through the din. I'd just ordered a Mikeller Santa's Little Helper and a Thornbridge Bracia, and gesturing towards the latter pump he said "It's six and a half" – as in percent, or so I thought.
That seemed a bit odd given that Bracia is normally 9% or so, but this was a special that had been aged for three years in Pedro Ximinez sherry casks, and I'd already had a couple of other very nice beers and was a bit zonked by the noise and the crush at the bar. I just figured I'd misheard so I shrugged and nodded.
Passing over a £20 note and getting £10.05 back was a bit of a surprise - £9.95 for two halves? Once I figured it out, I realised it was even more than that – the Mikeller must've been £3.95, or £7.90 a pint, which isn't really all that expensive for a foreign craft beer weighing in at 10.9%, but what he'd actually been telling me was that the Bracia was "£6 a half".
Yes, £12 a pint – if they'd even sell you a pint of a beer that's 9.3%, and if you could actually drink that much of something which tastes a bit like a liquid black treacle and liquorice pudding. It is a stunningly good and complex beer though, huge-bodied and delicious, with hints of sour cherries, some woody and vinous notes, and a bit of dark chocolate. And while it had less alcohol - nominally, at least - than the Mikeller which was also very tasty and slipped down far too easily, the Bracia somehow had more presence and body.
So, when can I get over there again to see if there's any left...?