Flat

So far this blog has covered quite a few subjects. Usually I have managed to keep just to the right level of drivel. Until now, that is. Today’s post is a first for this blog and perhaps for the whole Internet. This is a paean to that most underrated of drinks: flat Irn Bru, not to be confused with Irn Bru, Irn Bru Sugar Free or even the Irn Bru bar, tooth decay in bar form.

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Here’s some Irn Bru. In a can. On my windowsill.

I should explain for any international readers what Irn Bru is. It’s a soft drink, mainly sold here in Scotland. It’s orange in colour, carbonated and has a taste that is notoriously hard to describe. So I’m not going to try. It is made by AG Barr, who also make such fine soft drinks as Red Kola, American Cream Soda and Limeade. It used to be that you couldn’t get hold of Irn Bru in England. Indeed I spent a birthday in Liverpool when we smuggled cans in our bag just in case we couldn’t get hold of some. (That very day, we of course saw an advert for Irn Bru emblazoned on the side of a phone box.)

Irn Bru works best when served with fried food of some kind. Don’t pair Irn Bru with a Chinese takeaway, though, as it just sets your tongue on fire. One of the finest culinary experiences I have ever had was in St. Andrews, of all places, where I sat on a bench on a beautiful summer evening and consumed a very fine fish supper (covered in chippy sauce, as is good and proper) washed down by a can of Irn Bru. I am not typically in the business of taking photographs of my food but I made an exception in this case to capture this joyous event for posterity.

Irn Bru tastes different according to the receptacle in which it’s served, be it can, plastic bottle in 250ml, 500ml, 1 litre, 1.25 litre and 2 litre or of course the mighty glass bottle, which unfortunately you can no longer take back to the shop in order for recycling in return for a partial refund. In my judgement, glass is best. I last had a glass bottle on a very warm August afternoon just after Hibs played at Ibrox. It was glorious.

McDonald’s restaurants in Scotland (though nowhere else) serve Irn Bru, though from a draft machine. Draft machines have the unerring tendency to make soft drinks flat. Irn Bru is no exception. Similarly, if your plastic bottle is opened for any length of time, flat Irn Bru is what you get. Once being a regular customer of McDonald’s and indeed consumer of Irn Bru in plastic bottles, I speak from considerable experience.

Most people don’t like flat Irn Bru. It just isn’t the same as the fresh stuff, which is very readily available. But I do. I’ve been in several lower-league football grounds in Scotland and been served with flat Irn Bru to go with my pies. It just epitomises small town Scotland to me, away from the cities and corporate cheap and cheerless stuff. You just don’t get the faffing around that you do in cities out in the country. Plus I have stomach problems which fizzy drinks tend to exacerbate at times. Flat Irn Bru means the bubbles are gone and I get the taste without too much pain and grief. What could be better?

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