The pink pachyderm approached fleet-footed, as if in a dream.
" Don’t be alarmed, " he whooped, dancing gingerly on a spume of slowly dissipating foam. " It’s only the beer. "
I shook my head awake, and realized he was right. Ears thrumming, hands unsteady, I peered up at a towering white bottle crowned in royal-blue foil, a plump cork redolent of malt lying by its side. The bottle read " 8.5%. "
Other half-formed words glinted from the label. " Family Brewery Huyghe " ; " Ghent " ; " Belgiu... " ; " 1654. "
Needing a restorative, I raised a squat, voluptuously curved Kriek glass to my lips, slurping the potent, small-bubbled elixir through a thick, satin-soft head. I let it linger on my sluggish tongue, slowly savoring flavors of fruit (pear? Lemon? Pineapple?) and a barely bitter, alcohol-heavy resonance.
And again, I felt the good burn. It persisted a moment, then faded to an efflorescent, tingling warmth.
" Eight point five percent, " I said.
" Eight point five percent, " the elephant chortled.
Smiling wanly, I cast a feckless sidelong glance at the drink’s robust color, a golden-yellow sunrise shining through a partly cloudy brume.
Giving a smart salute to the hot-stepping crocodile with a showman’s grin who’d sidled up beside me, I took another sip.
Available for $9.45 for a 750-milliliter bottle at Downtown Wine & Spirits, 225 Elm Street, in Somerville. Call (617) 625-7777.