10 Months of Planning and it’s Finally Here + I Drank a 9 Year Old Bottle of Beer to Celebrate!

By the time you read this, we’ll be in route to San Diego International Airport for our big day of travel. Heading East, means we’ll lose our entire day to being in the air and on the ground waiting to be in the air again. No complaints here though. This has been 10 months in the making and the time it’s going to take us to get there will have been well worth it. After all, our entire roundtrip flight from California to Scotland and then back from Dublin cost us $88.80. And sure, flying non-stop, direct, would be a perfect scenario, but the logistics didn’t work out at the time we booked the trip. We leave Tuesday morning and arrive Wednesday morning.

In the days leading up to our departure, we’ve sought to shore up any last minute loose ends. I booked our train from Edinburgh down to York, for example, something I had previously neglected to do. We each bought a new pair of shoes for walking around the cities and to prevent our running shoes from overuse. Julie also bought a new and more comfortable purse, which I’m told is a necessity for extended travel.

Aside from those items, we intend to play a number of things by ear so as not to overwhelm ourselves with too many planned activities. I spoke to my homestay family from my Oxford study abroad trip (way back in ’09) and we have a tentative plan to meet up on either Wednesday or Thursday during our time in London. But for the most part, much of our itinerary is open, leaving us the opportunity to discover things at our own pace. Maybe that even means there will be a chance for me to squeeze in a bucket list trip to Wimbledon to watch some of the Championships. 🙂

Wimbledon Centre Court (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Wimbledon Centre Court (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Other than activities, our main concern is being able to effectively adapt to the time change. We’re flying all day Tuesday and capping it off with a red-eye flight across the “pond” landing on Wednesday morning. During our layover, we hope to catch a U.S. victory over Germany (fingers crossed!) in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and maybe a little food (since I know Economy meals aren’t exactly five star dining). To help with potential airplane sleep, we’re brining a tea-like drink with melatonin in it. Technically, it’s supposed to help people sleep when battling a cold, but we both know it works for us, and hope it will do the same for the trip.

Oh, and speaking of helping you sleep, there’s the story of the 9 year old bottle of beer…

Way back in 2006, I bought a bottle of “Fuller’s Bottle Conditioned Vintage Ale”. Even though I was still three years away from visiting England, I knew I wanted to go and I definitely wanted to drink their beer. So, while browsing the aisles of BevMo, I came across this bottle of Ale.

2006 Fuller's Vintage Ale
2006 Fuller’s Vintage Ale

The bottle describes the way in which the beer is crafted as a limited edition (assuming you consider 100,000 to be “limited”). What initially caught my eye though, aside from it being English of course, was that the following statement: “Although we are obliged to state a best buy date of 2009, like a fine wine or whisky, this mellow and golden ale will improve with age for many years“.

Ok, so full disclosure: I never intended to keep this beer for a predetermined number of years, especially not nine. My hope, was that because this was a limited edition beer, and at the time pricey for a single bottle (all of $7-9) that I would save it for some sort of special occasion. Of course, I had no real idea what special occasion I was saving it for and over the years any number of them have passed me by. Graduations, 30th birthdays, anniversaries to name a few, came and went and yet the bottle still remained.

Vintage Ale
Vintage Ale

It’s fair to say that Julie was pretty skeptical about the quality this beer was going to produce after all these years, and was thus, incredibly reluctant to even take a sip. I had my doubts about the beer as well, but if the label was accurate, then the beer was only going to get better over the years, right? I opened the box and bottle and poured two glasses.

Vintage Ale in Guinness 250th anniversary glasses
Vintage Ale in Guinness 250th anniversary glasses

So was it worth it? I took a sip and determined that it didn’t taste bad at all. I’m no beer connoisseur (I can’t name all the ingredients or flavors, for example) but I’ve had beers in the past that weren’t worth more than a sip or two at best. This one didn’t fit into that category in my book, although it’s hard for me to say how the quality would stack up had the beer been opened within the first few years. As it stands, I thought it was pretty good and drank the entire bottle. Julie was as predicted, not impressed by the taste of the Ale (she generally prefers lighter beers anyway) and passed on any more than an obligatory sip.

I can say with absolute certainty that I am incredibly excited for the food and drinks we are soon to experience. I’m not sure the beers will be any better than our weekend in Belgium, although fresh Guinness in Dublin will be nice too. After a full day of travel upcoming, Julie and I both agree, the food we’re most looking forward to, is that Scottish breakfast on Wednesday morning. Oh, and the large cup of coffee Julie is going to drink with it 🙂

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