Nine months ago – maybe more like 10 – I was a gainful beer brewer, extracting sugars from malted barley like a champ, boiling down the resulting wort with some Belgian candi sugar and mild hops, crashing the sweet liquid’s temperature down to what is tolerable to a hungry, awakening yeast cell, and then pitching the yeast like a fireballer in the ninth.
Do you know how many brewing awards I won? None. That was part of my art: to win no awards while brewing award-caliber beer.
Then I decided to stop brewing for a bit to put an addition onto my house, and it’s as if the whole beer industry fell apart. I come back from my brewing hiatus to learn that Boston Homebrew Supply has shut down. Zounds! How is a fellow supposed to surreptitiously brew a beer while his wife, who doesn’t read this blog (I think), is in Chicago doing who-knows-what with people from work? “In a conference.” Ha! Probably brewing beer with the gals, secretly, as we all know that women are poised to take over everything, including beer brewing.
But anyway… where was I? Oh yeah, Boston Homebrew Supply and its proprietor, Tom Casey, are no longer. Well, Tom himself still likely exists, but his venture and its website are now history.
Alas, I am made to go to the Modern Homebrew Emporium in Cambridge, or get my grains delivered in the mail, thus burning more fossil fuels and foreshortening the survival of our species by some fraction of a day. But at least we’ll have beer as we lurch forward toward the abyss.
Recent reports in several fake news media outlets have noted the uncanny similarities between you and me, and I totally get why that is. Our world views are both informed by an old-school brand of reach-across-the-aisle politics that’s in terribly short supply these days; as children, we both suffered immeasurably through chronic health issues that made sleep impossible until doctors took the radical approach of amputation, forcing us to go through life without benefit of tonsils; and we both are master beer brewers.
But that’s where our similarities end. Because while you have embraced the “craft beer” movement, I’ve taken the additional step of focusing my attention on the burgeoning world of Art Beer.
Look, I’m not here to complain. Sure, your “golden ale” is perhaps more khaki than gold, but that’s to be expected from the work of a craftsman. And anyway, no one is complaining about the nuances of color in your beer (except that columnist in Brewer’s Quarterly). Truth is, I’ve loudly praised your efforts and have myself called you “innovative” and “thought-provoking.”
But let’s not kid ourselves. A craft beer like your “Old Mr. Brown” is just a Saturday afternoon quaff without any hint of irony. Meanwhile, my “Stout Americain” has far too much character to be guzzled and belched out during a college football game, and provides the kind of social commentary about the relative size of the US waistline that doesn’t just entertain, but also teaches.
And isn’t that what art (beer) is supposed to do? I think so.
Is my art beer without controversy? No. But then again, if it were it probably wouldn’t be very interesting. That’s what I love about art beer: always pushing boundaries, always interacting with person doing the consuming, all while quietly and subtly getting people hammered.
Eventually, I’m going to retire from my current role as a quiet player in backroom diplomatic negotiations that foster world peace, and when I do I’m going to open a shop called “Pat’s Bike and Brew.” I’ve always wanted to open a shop that combines two of the things I most love in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours. This will be a place where you can get your bike serviced, purchase tools and parts, and get maintenance advice. Or just shoot the breeze over a couple of Belgian golden ales, brewed right there on site. Needless to say, I’ll brew the beer. It’s not like I don’t have significant experience with it.
It’s just occurring to me, and probably already occurred to you, that authorities may not be so pleased with a bike shop serving beer. Can you imagine a car dealership serving beer to patrons while they wait for their alternator to be replaced? I’m sure you can, and so can lawyers who have made a career out of suing car dealers.
So I have a better idea: “Pat’s Watch and Clock. And Beer.” As a person with many watches and clocks, several of which don’t work, I’m just the right person to show enthusiasm for your love of old mechanical timepieces, which are easily outperformed by cheap plastic devices with Disney characters on their faces. As we talk about the beauty of grandpa’s old Illinois Regulator watch and all its little gears and springs and jewels, we can uncork a couple of Abbey Ales. Just don’t spill any droplets into the movement, because my Abbey Ales have a fair bit of unfermentable sugars in them and will make a sticky mess of grandpa’s precious pocket watch.
With this in mind, it may be best to go with “Pat’s Radio Repair, and Good Beer.” I like old radios, especially when you can find a baseball game on them. And I like good beer when I’m listening to baseball. In my radio repair shop, you can bring in an old Telefunken tube radio that used to play The Shadow in the 1940s. I will find the offending dead tube and get a replacement from an online supplier that has purchased the whole world’s remaining supply of radio tubes. And then you and I toast me with a glass or two of my dry-hopped Hefeweizen while listening to the staticy a.m. signal, until you, as a lightweight, get drunk on my beer and pissed off that the radio only plays “traffic on the 3s” and foreign language radio programs instead of The Lone Ranger. And then you throw the radio across the room, smashing it to bits.
Maybe I’ll just open a beer tasting room instead.
I’ve looked at a lot of real estate ads over the last couple of years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that some neighborhoods are highly coveted. You may think you live in an unnoticed little neck of the woods, but it turns out that everyone is salivating over your school’s MCAS results. Whether it’s Revolutionary Ridge in Concord, or Prospect Hill in Lexington, or the Bates neighborhood in Wellesley, you might as well face it that people have an unhealthy and maybe even sinful longing for your leafy streets.
I was commanded as a child not to covet things like wives and asses and other “possessions” of my neighbors. Despite the fact that I was surrounded by wives – I mean you can’t imagine how many wives there were in my neighborhood when I was a kid! – I managed not to be covetous of them. (As it was a suburban enclave, there were no asses to be found, though there was a fair bit of random asininity). However, I don’t recall any directives about not coveting the school district in which one's neighbor resides.
Real estate agents must believe that a neighborhood cannot be classified as something its inhabitants “possess,” as they keep trumpeting which streets and school districts and neighborhoods are coveted in an effort to get you to covet these places as well, the implication being that if God didn’t want you to desire living on a certain street, he’d have etched that information into stone tablets.
Rest assured that I have little desire to possess that 3-bed, 2-bath split-level home on half an acre that’s for sale in your exclusive gated neighborhood. On the other hand, I can’t help but covet that Belgian ale you’re about to uncork.
J'Biden Era Haikuage
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In 100 days
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Repair. Restore. Heal.
There's nothing new here
The Affordable Care Act
We're restoring it
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The world is watching
Strategy is based
On Science, not politics
Truth, not denial
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