St. Austell Proper Job
St. Austell Proper Job
A decade ago, during the wretched fall-out from a rough relationship break-up, I spent a few unhappy weeks believing my heart was broken. The soreness I felt from my jaw to my navel surely only had one explanation: the devastation I’d experienced emotionally had also acted on me physically, somehow ripping my ventricles apart and tearing me valve from bloody valve.
However, when the pain got so bad that I finally visited the doctor, she informed me – in that slow, unemotional way that some doctors have – that my heart was quite intact. It transpired that the rasping in my ribs and the punch in my chest that woke me from my fevered dreams was not due to the loss of a true love, but simply the result of a virus. I had pleurisy.
Although this blunt diagnosis punctured the romantic view I had of myself, the discovery that – if I quit smoking (once more), took some painkillers and gave it a bit of time – I would soon be cured meant not only would I be able to fall in love all over again, but I would also be able to return to Cornwall.
Sometimes the places you visit with a lover become imbued with so much more than the beauty they may intrinsically possess. They become saturated with memories, drenched in meaning: that beach where you stepped in and out of each other’s footprints; the path where she held your hand as you jumped from the stile; the estuary that cut into the cliffs like a half-smile, leading to that spot where you kissed, her hair whipping against your cheeks and the sea-spray filling your mouth with her salted scent. And then there’s the beer on your lips in the pub that becomes yours for the week. Your pub. The pub where you told that joke; where you ate that sandwich; where the dog fell asleep with his head in your boot. The pub where you ordered that pint you’d never had before and then ordered the same beer again and again all week.
Cornwall was all these things and more and the thought of going back alone or, somehow worse, with someone else was initially too much to contemplate. But my diagnosis with a sound-hearted pleurisy marked the beginning of my transition from broken to mended, from sad to sometimes happy, and finally from ex-lover to new love. And that beer I returned to – and return to still – was and is St Austell’s Proper Job.
Embedded in Cornwall but drawing its roots from the United States, Proper Job was created by master brewer, Roger Ryman, after spending time at the BridgePort Brewery in Oregon. Cornish malts provided the backdrop for American hops to shine a light on what beer could be, a light that’s now so bright that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly from when and where those first sparks burst. It’s bitter in a way that lifts the palate and it scatters sunshine across its earthiness, offering enough hope to cut through any tears.
And now, on that same beach in Cornwall I stand with someone different. I step over the footprints I once left behind and make an entirely new path. My hands touch other hands, hands I hope to hold forever. And though the pub may be different, the beer is the same. Because a beer is not an ex-lover. It’s not unfaithful to return to it from time to time. And it will never, ever break your heart.
Flagship beers were chosen by the individual writers with no input from the #FlagshipFebruary partners or sponsor breweries.