Whenever I look for a new place to move into, which I do pretty much every day, I always make sure there’s some extra space – a loft above the garage, an old barn, an observatory from which I can view the worlds beyond – that I might convert to a guest house.
Or an ale factory. Let’s be realistic: I know much more about beer than I know about guests. Shouldn’t I have room in my new place to spend time on something I’m intimately familiar with, like ale, instead of something I know little about, such as guests? Your answer, I suppose, depends on whether you would rather to be a guest of mine or drink my beer.
I know what you’re thinking: don’t you serve your beer to your guests? Yes I do. But frankly, I’d rather make them pay for it.
You see where I’m going with this. I need to schedule a smackdown between the marketing arms of my beer and guest operations to see which can create a more lucrative-sounding business plan. Once I take stock of that information, the rest will be easy. It’s not like properties with private observatories that can be converted to brew houses are so hard to find.
Come Observe Me Making Ale
The steaming bowl of scallops arrives amid oohs and aahs. Placed between the two patrons, with accompaniments of crusty bread and chopped up things, this is an easily shared appetizer. The scallops are the size of hockey pucks, kings of edible bivalves when set against wimpy little mussels and clams. “I’m glad we didn’t order the salad as well,” says one of the customers, nibbling. Yes, who would want all those extra calories?
Soon, a dilemma arises: the scallops number only three. An even number of puckish hunks of sea meat would have been easier to divide; now these two will have to arm wrestle for the remaining disk. Says one of patrons to the waiter, “Can we order another scallop?”
“Another order?” he suggests.
“No, another scallop. There are only 3 so we can’t split the dish evenly.”
The waiter’s face barely betrays his bemusement (or is befuddlement?). He complies with the request, though it’s easy to see that he’s thinking, “Christ, they weigh half a pound each. Can’t you just cut one of them in half?”
One night this past December, the rumor mill informed me that the Somerville, MA-based beer brewery Pretty Things would be closing shop.
I loudly guffawed as I always do when I hear something too absurd to be true, waking my slumbering children upstairs as well as several babies in the neighborhood with my melodramatic explosions of laughter, shaking my head vigorously at the preposterousness of it all, ending the laugh session with a chortle and a few trailing snorts as I wiped away tears of laughter.
Once in control of my senses, I followed up the laughter with a few indignant harrumphs. “Someone is spreading stupid lies!”
Pretty Things was the responsible party behind one of my all-time favorite beverages, Jack D’or, a “Saison Americaine.” I’m not saying that Jack D’or was one of my favorite local brews, or one of my favorite farmhouse ales. I’m saying it was one of my all-time favorite beers of any kind. And it was soon to be gone forever!
I went out to the Macy’s in West Roxbury to stock up, but my beer guy gave me the bad news: “They’re all gone. No more of the Jack D’or for you, my friend. Thanks for all the bottles you bought these last several years. Now run along like a good boy.” (Slight embellishment.)
Is this what it feels like when your favorite obscure insect becomes extinct? Jack D’or was a bright and happy beer, sharp and crisp, a little spicy, a little tangy, a mouthful of flavor from the first to the last sip of the 22 oz. bomber bottles they came in, all acheived without slapping you in the face with hops. To give you a sense of how much I loved Jack D’or, I’ve made a few lame attempts at cloning it, and then gave up, telling myself to make my own beer instead of trying to replicate the perfect saison.
My beer guy surmised that the reason Pretty Things closed shop was because they were blackballed by Boston bars for calling a few out for the illegal practice of requiring distributors to pay for tap space. The owner of Bukowski’s Pub was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying that Pretty Things had “an inferior product” at its cost.
More excessive laughter. A Jack D’or used to run me $5.99 for a 22 oz. bottle, whereas Hennepin (another great Saison by the Ommegang people in Cooperstown) costs more like $11.99. Favorite beer plus low price doesn’t equal inferior product at its cost.
I’d say that I’m never going to set foot in Bukowskis again, but they won’t miss me, since I’ve had maybe one beer there my whole life. Not to mention that after the Red Sox won the world series in 2004, they denied entry to a certain acerbic high school principal I know because he was emotionally exhausted.
Anyway, I suppose I have the moral duty to take up the Petty Things mantle and start brewing farmhouse ales for public consumption. Stay tuned.
A friend of mine, having drunk (unassisted) a 22-oz bottle of my high-gravity Belgian Trippel, which required him to rest his brain for the ensuing hour or so, asked me recently (or rather challenged me) to brew something a wee bit less powerful. “Like a heather ale,” he suggested, having enjoyed several of these at a Scottish pub called The Haven.
Sure, I’ll just get online and find myself a good extract recipe for a heather ale, my friend. Of course, all the recipes I come across require an ingredient called "heather."
This makes me wonder: what, exactly, is heather? Google, which currently controls every atom on this earth, can help with that! A quick search for “heather” results in a few pictures of flowering evergreen shrubs, and several thousand images of women, one of which reminds me that that I once had a thing for Heather Graham (after Boogie Nights, who didn’t?).
I modify my search to “fields of heather,” and soon find myself at a Yelp page where people are posting their opinions of a bakery in Chester, Maryland called Fields of Heather. No, what I want to know is “where to find heather in the northeast,” imagining that I might cut flowers from a wild shrub to dry-hop my brew. Instead, I discover that someone named “Heather Northeast” is on Facebook, and based on a photo she has (perhaps ironically) posted, seems to have traveled to Southeast Asia. I try once more with the search term “wild heather.” The Internet Movie Database tells me this was a film made in 1921, whose storyline is “A dying senator weds a girl reporter to make her guardian of his three sons.” (A rather curious selection for a guardian, though I imagine the senator's boys didn't argue with him about it.)
Perhaps I’ll just brew an IPA.
Trumpian Tweetage Haiku Continuum
Must go nuclear option.
NO MORE DACA DEAL!
We don’t have a wall
Not going to have a country
FUND THE BORDER WALL
Trade Wars are good and
Easy to win. They get cute?
Don't trade; we win big!
Promote the Fake Book
Mentally Deranged Author
Now that collusion
With Russia: a total hoax
Kim Jong Un, I too
Have a nuclear button.
And my button works.
Tax cut/Reform bill
Massive Alaska Drilling
Sanctions on North Korea
World wants Peace, not Death
Women I don't know. FAKE NEWS!
Army Navy Game
He's bad on Crime, Life, Border.
Vets. Guns. VOTE ROY MOORE!
Time Magazine Called
Prob'ly "Person of the Year"
I took a pass. Thanks!
The Christmas Story
Mother, Father, Baby Son
Jesus Christ. Bahrain.
Matt Lauer just fired
When will top executives
Be fired for Fake News?
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