The Beer Queendom...
This is the story of The Beer Queendom, a social utopia where good beer is plentiful
and justice rules. As with all human endeavors, utopia is a hardfought goal. The Queen
is currently battling a moat dweller who she banished from The Beer Queendom for demanding
the inclusion of wheat beers, and the effects of the Outer World’s globally induced
warming trend. Preparations continue, nonetheless, for the world’s greatest beer festival.
It rained without stop for 40 days and 40 nights, causing a delay in Beer Carnaval as the Queen scrambled to shore up the area where the festival would take place. Nor could she ignore what was taking place in the Outer Realm: melting polar caps, a threefold increase in rainfall, and oil wells sprouting like weeds. Even those occupying the high ground had to scramble. The brewing regions were in more danger than she had predicted. If the Dutch hadn’t been so determined to save their country, all of Europe would be flooded. Instead, massive dikes and an interconnecting array of 10-Hecto umbrellas that opened and shut depending upon the weather now protected continental Europe. After 40 days it must be getting pretty funky under those umbrellas, The Queen thought.
Closer to home, her Master Taster’s quarters were flooded again. She couldn’t bring herself to think what that meant to the beer cellar.
The telephone rang. “From Belgium, your highness. It’s Madamoiselle Hanssen.”
The Queen handed a revised sluice gate schedule to her chief engineer and picked up the receiver. “Bonjour, Sidy!” She tried to sound unconcerned about the world’s plumbing as she greeted one of the world’s great lambic blenders. “Pardon?... je ne t'entends pas.” Snapping her fingers, she motioned for the servant to call her interpreter. None of the Hanssens spoke English and she had never kept a Belgian boyfriend long enough to bother learning French. Not even Circus Boy, for whom at one point she’d had high hopes.
The delay in Beer Carnaval had one unexpected benefit; it had given the Queen time to find more beers. Large chunks of the west coast had fallen into the ocean, taking distribution centers with them. Most of the breweries were intact, but the highways were spotty—even gypsy truckers avoided the trip. The extra time had enabled her to sign a contract with Blokester Beverage to run a truck out west.
After several exchanges on the telephone, The Queen’s interpreter turned to her. “Mme.
Hanssens says all of Belgium is flooding. The canals are breaching and the blending barn is in danger of being lost.”
“I thought she had prepared for that,” the Queen said. The last time they had spoken, Sidy said she was having dikes built around the barn.
“She hired the wrong construction company.”
“Didn’t she take my recommendation?”
“She said they weren’t available so she hired Happy Hour Construction,” the translator replied. “They were still planning the job when the canal breached.”
“You mean they were still drinking!” the Queen exclaimed. “Who recommended Happy Hour?”
“They had an in with Halliburton, who threw them the job because it was too small.”
The Queen hit the buzzer next to her throne.
“I’m here,” Border Collie said.
“Oh, right. How many sand bags do we have left in our Belgium warehouse?”
“One thousand, seven hundred and thirty-two pallets,” answered Border Collie. Survivalist training included keeping an accurate count of pallets as well as her personal store of small arms and bottled water.
The Queen turned to her translator. “Ask Madame Hanssens how many sand bags she needs to protect the blending barn. Then double it.” People always underestimated what they needed in these situations. “Also tell her the room is ready if she wants to come early for Carnaval. Find out what day she is arriving.”
After a moment, the translator turned to The Queen. “She said she’s not coming. There is a no fly zone over the Outer Realm. And they rejected her visa again.”
The Queen cursed inwardly. Homeland Security hooligans in the Outer Realm had turned Sidy’s last visit into an international incident. It had done no good to explain that the vials they had seized were yeast / bacteria samples from Payottenland, an attempt to transfer lambic character to the Beer Queendom. The goons grew even more obstinate when they heard it was bacteria. Finally they claimed it was Sarin gas. How much longer would this terror hoax last? How could anyone be so gullible?
Line 2 lit up and Border Collie snatched it.
"Who is it?" The Queen demanded.
"What do they want?"
"It's the Blokester. He's driving the casks to the festival himself."
“What about the west coast beers?”
“Says he’s got someone on the way there now.”
“So what does he wa…” The Queen interrupted herself. "Let me guess, he's lost."
"Right," Border Collie confirmed. The Blokester's disorientation was legendary.
"Where is he?"
"On a roundabout," Border Collie replied.
"Where?” the Queen asked.
"Says he’s on a roundabout."
“Where is the roundabout? Where? Where? I haven't all day!" The Queen grabbed the telephone. "Where are you? … I know you’re on a roundabout, get off it or you'll keep going in circles. … Yes there is an exit, there is always an exit. How do you think you got on? Entrance, exit, got it?" Suddenly she understood. "Exit right. … No, right! You have to exit to the right, you're not in England anymore! … I know it's a roundabout! Get off the roundabout!" She handed the telephone back to Border Collie, wishing she could wrench the wheel out of the Blokester’s hands and drive herself. "Tell him it will be good to see him."
She motioned to the house phone. “Get me the Master Taster.”
Moments later, his gruff voice came over the line. “What?”
Her Master Taster must be preparing a beer and food pairing, she thought. He was always grumpy when she interrupted him at his work. “Did you notice the time?”
“So?” came the response.
“Lunch is not yet served.”
The Queen stifled an urge to scream, amazed at the impudence. What had gotten in to him? She’d heard that he had left the Queendom again, to visit the moat dweller. Even after being left to die on his last visit. Was it a stupidity gene in males or was it that testosterone thing again? Or maybe he was drinking too many wheat beers.
Did you know he’s starting a brewery?” the Master Taster asked.
“Who?” the Queen asked.
The Master Taster motioned toward the moat below.
“How did you know?”
“That it’s Ridiculous.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” the Queen asked.
“It’s not obvious, it’s Ridiculous.”
“It’s ridiculous and obvious!”
“No it’s just Ridiculous. Ridiculous Ales. Once they get enough tank space, they’ll start making lagers.”
“No, Ridiculous Lagers.”
“How can you be Ridiculous and Insane?” the Master Taster asked.
“Remember who we’re dealing with,” the Queen replied. As she set down her fork her eye caught the empty deck of the moat boat. One positive thing about the rain was that it had prevented the moat dweller from hanging his laundry on the deck. He was probably wearing wet clothes. Or more likely, he hadn’t bothered doing a wash. The rain had also helped clean up the moat, washing the stray detritus through the sluice gates.
“Why did you bring up this ridiculous nonsense anyway?” she asked. Her Master Taster never spoke without reason, when he spoke at all.
“Got a call from Blokester Beverage,” the Master Taster replied.
“And?” After several moments of silence, she realized she wasn’t getting an answer and asked, “Where is the west coast beer?”
“It’s on the way.”
“There’s a hitch.” This time it was the Queen’s turn to maintain her silence. Finally, the Master Taster motioned toward the moat, “He’s driving the lorry, says he won’t give it up unless he can come to Carnaval.”
“What’s he going to do with that much beer?” the Queen asked.
“Says he’s going to have a beer fest.”
“Ha!” The Queen looked at the moat below. “The world’s first underwater beer festival? I’m sure he’ll get a lot of people to go to that!”
“Right,” the Master Taster agreed, “but I’d hate to think of all that beer disappearing underwater.”
“What do you recommend?” the Queen asked, feeling out of character.
“He’s carrying some great beer on that truck. I think we should let him in. He’s not even looking to get paid for the beer.”
“Can we keep him in a cage?”
“We have that little tent at the end of the grounds,” the Master Taster replied.
“Then do it. And make sure you get all the beer from him. I don’t want any of it going into the moat.”
After another hesitation, the Master Taster added, “He’s carrying wheat beers.”
“Wheat beers!” the Queen thundered. “They are not allowed in The Beer Queendom!”
“He says it’s all or none. I think he’s serious.”
Several years as a high level negotiator had taught The Queen to recognize a bottom line offer and by the tone of her Master Taster’s voice, she knew she had hit one. Yet caving on this would mean disaster for the wheat beer ban. Some sort of regulation was needed until she could rethink the situation under less urgent circumstances. “I accept,” she said, adding, “on one condition.”
“What’s that?” the Master Taster asked, surprised by the Queen’s compromise.
“Any and all wheat beers admitted must be by prescription only. That way I can limit the number of them.” Without hesitating further, she picked up the in-house telephone. “Get me my lawyer. Tell him to bring a legal pad, we need to draw up a contract.”
“Good,” the Master Taster said, turning to go.
“Wheat beers by prescription only. And he’ll need an M.D. to prescribe each one.”
“I’ll let him know,” the Master Taster replied. He suspected that he would end up doing all the paperwork.
“And no beer bitches in his tent.”
Next issue, Beer Carnaval.
By los Testigos de Cerveza
Copyright 2006, Rocky Mountain Brewing News