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 hard fought goal. The Queen is 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.
Honeyman set down his beer and looked around. Everything the Master Taster had told him about Wheaties was accurate. The place was carved into solid rock, from the large, chandeliered foyer to the granite-walled rest rooms. The main bar was in a room reminiscent of the Neanderthal Age, a gray stone cavern that could have fit a large clan. He shuddered to think how much dynamite they used to create this space. It certainly didn’t seem like a speakeasy. Rather, it was ostentatious.
The décor was all about wheat beer. Artwork, marketing memorabilia, even a poster of the house beer, Wheaties Ale—accompanied by a series of smiling, clean-shaven but long forgotten sports heroes—decorated the walls. Hefeweizens, witbiers, Berliner Weisse beers, dunkelweizens, even some of the early 21st Century American wheat ales that had become so common before the Second Prohibition hung on wall posters. It paid homage to wheat as an ingredient in beer.
“You’d never find this in The Beer Queendom,” the moat dweller said, echoing the thought running through Honeyman’s mind. It also reminded him why he was here. Put simply, to save the world. And he wasn’t yet sure how he was going to go about it. The Queen’s lawyer swung his barstool—made entirely from cedar or cherry or some now extinct wood—and picked his beer up off the solid oak bar top. Zoomer Wit was light-bodied and delicious. Having lived so long in The Queendom, where wheat beers were banned, he had forgotten how the slight doughy flavor contrasted with the refreshing bite of wheat. A flood of memories burst forth like an unleashed dam. “I heard you met with a Weatherman,” he said, returning to the task at hand.
The moat dweller shifted in his bar stool. “Who said that?”
“Didn’t meet with a Weatherman?” Honeyman repeated impatiently.
“I didn’t say that,” the moat dweller replied.
“What did he say about targeting places with weather patterns?” Honeyman asked, remembering the moat dweller’s legendary prevaricating skills.
“Weather patterns?” The moat dweller pointed around. “Did you check out the photos in this place? The owners were all multiple DWI refugees who had to go underground during the Second Prohibition. They started…”
“…Let’s get back to the point,” Honeyman interrupted. “I saw you negotiating with the alien Freemason about targeting weather anomalies. If that can be done, this would go a long way toward…” Honeyman stopped in mid-sentence, struck by the thought that his words must sound crazy. Maybe he needed a more subtle approach. “Do you remember meeting the alien Freemason at Beer Carnival?”
“Sure,” the moat dweller admitted. “Great Carnival, 140 cask ales alone!”
“What were you talking about?” Sometimes treating him like a child proved more effective. He finished his Zoomer.
“Good beer, eh?”
“Yes.” In fact, drinking the wheat beer was far more pleasurable than it ought to have been. The simple act of defiance had lifted a huge weight off his back.
“It’s a taste of freedom,” the moat dweller said, as if reading his mind.
The waitress arrived. “I’ll have another one of these,” Honeyman said immediately, pointing to his empty glass.
“No,” the moat dweller interrupted. He pointed to the row of tap handles sticking out of the marble wall behind the bar. “Get him one of Ranger’s beers, that new dunkelweizen.”
“But I want the same thing,” Honeyman protested.
“You need to switch beers, to avoid Bavarian Fever,” the moat dweller said.
“What?” Honeyman asked.
“Bavarian Fever. It’s like Stockholm Syndrome. You’ve been living in The Beer Queendom so long you’ve started to love your captors,” the moat dweller elaborated. “They’ve replaced your need for love so you depend on them for everything. Especially beer, that’s the Bavarian Fever part. Your first wheat beer unleashed all that dependency.”
“I’m not going to like the dunkelweizen,” Honeyman replied. He hadn’t liked wheat beers that much in the first place.
““Freedom has its price,” the moat dweller continued, ignoring the response. “I’ve seen it a hundred times. It’s a disease you’ll get over after a couple pints. But you can’t drink the same beer or you’ll get stuck in a rut, like someone who drinks crap beer and remains loyal to it.
“Oh, once you return to The Beer Queendom you’ll have to get the Master Taster to give you some wheat beers. He has a secret stash.”
“All I wanted was another Zoomer,” Honeyman replied. “I like it.”
“That’s what I’m telling you, it’s part of the Bavarian Fever. You always want the same beer, the one that gave you the initial pleasure. Trust me.”
The bartender returned, setting down two beers. “She looks familiar,” Honeyman said as she walked away.
“That’s Svetlana,” the moat dweller replied. “She moonlights here for extra money.”
“I like her.”
“I can get you a mail order bride. Two of her sisters are still in Russia. One of them types fast, but you’d have to teach her English.”
“I want her,” Honeyman said, still admiring the bartender. He had never seen a prettier woman.
“That’s also part of Bavarian Fever,” the moat dweller said. “You fall in love with the first person that serves you a wheat beer.”
“Good thing Boris isn’t working tonight,” the moat dweller said. “Funny thing is that the Fever doesn’t affect you any other way.”
As the moat dweller spoke, Honeyman’s mind returned to their earlier conversation. “What were you saying to the alien Freemason at Beer Carnival?”
“I wanted to be reinstated,” came the response.
“What? You know the Queen would never let you return unless you give up wheat beers.”
“No, reinstated as a Freemason,” the moat dweller replied. “I almost reached 33 degrees.”
“That’s the Master stage,” the moat dweller explained. “Everyone wants to reach 33 degrees.”
“I see,” Honeyman replied, not sure whether to follow this thought or put it down as another fragment of a moat dweller dream that had derailed like some runaway train. He often jumped from one topic to another without finishing any of them.
“You know about Freemasons?” the moat dweller asked.
“I want to know what happened at your meeting,” Honeyman said.
“I’m telling you. It was about getting reinstated.”
Honeyman fell silent, trying to regain his thoughts. The clink of glasses, talk and laughter filled the room around them, sounding distant in the cavernous space. “I didn’t know you could get kicked out of freemasonry,” he finally said.
“Sure you can,” the moat dweller explained. “For going outside the bounds of the compass.”
“The compass. You know, the Freemason’s square and compass? You’re not supposed to deviate outside the lines of the compass. That’s how they control behavior.”
Given that there were boundaries, Honeyman wondered how the Freemasons even considered the moat dweller as a potential member in the first place. But then again, the entire conversation might be a figment of his imagination. No matter, what was relevant was to refocus the conversation. Compasses, degrees, he could see that he was getting nowhere. His eyes fell on Svetlana, who had turned to see if they needed another beer. “I want her,” Honeyman said.
“Have another wheat beer,” the moat dweller replied. “That part of the Fever will fade.”
Honeyman looked away. “Did they reinstate you?”
“First I have to get the death warrant repealed,” the moat dweller replied. “Then they’ll consider my case.”
“Death warrant!” Honeyman’s thoughts—and eyes—again focused on Svetlana, who had bent down behind the bar back for pint glasses. Her skin showed between her stylish, low cut jeans and shirt. “Is she married?”
“Yeah and it doesn’t look good for reinstatement,” the moat dweller continued.
“No, her.” Honeyman pointed at Svetlana, who straightened, turned and looked at him. She smiled. “I love her.”
“Love who?” the moat dweller asked.
While he was a slow actor, Honeyman had a quick mind. “I know how you can get reinstated.”
“How?” The moat dweller’s interest was piqued.
“Do something for someone besides yourself.” The moat dweller stopped his beer gulp. “Because it will help you in the end,” Honeyman finished.
“Oh,” the moat dweller said. Then drank. “You have a plan?”
“I hear that the alien Freemason has 36 degrees.”
“There’s no such thing,” the moat dweller replied. “They only go to 34 degrees.”
“It’s new,” Honeyman said quickly. “They created an advanced degree. Look it up.”
The moat dweller looked at the Queen’s lawyer, unable to decide if he was telling the truth. He had lost touch with freemasonry years ago and they might have created another degree. On the other hand, not much changed within the organization.
Honeyman forged ahead. “If you can get the alien to target a tornado…”
“…what do you think of that wheat beer?” the moat dweller interrupted, pointing to the beer in front of Honeyman.
“Good, very good.”
“You’re not drinking it. You have to drink the dunkelweizen if you’re going to overcome Bavarian Fever.”
“I don’t know if I want to overcome anything,” the Queen’s lawyer replied, gazing at Svetlana. If he drank it quickly, maybe he could have another Zoomer. At the same time he wondered what he was going to do when he returned to The Beer Queendom. When she first banned wheat beers, the Queen had enforced the edict by subjecting citizens to random testing with the wheatalyzer, a device that identified those who still had wheat in their circulatory systems. He had a blood test scheduled this week and they might require him to take the wheatalyzer exam.
Svetlana returned when she saw that their glasses were empty. “Vat vould you like?” she asked.
“What time does your shift finish?” Honeyman asked.
Svetlana looked at the moat dweller, frowning. “What?” he said, knowing she was onto his game. “I think it’s time for Gumballhead.”
“That’s a woman I could marry,” Honeyman said as Svetlana left to get the beers.
“You don’t mind that she’s a little overweight?”
“She’s not,” Honeyman replied.
“Bavarian Fever,” the moat dweller said. “She’s got some extra weight, believe me. She eats too many french fries.”
The Gumballhead did the trick in erasing Honeyman’s obsession with Zoomer. An American-style wheat ale, it boasted an enormous fruitiness and hop character. “Great hot weather beer. Not sure how it’ll taste once summer is over.” Honeyman set his glass down. His obsession with the woman that served it to him grew overpowering. “Where did she go?”
“It’s easier to drink in hot weather,” the moat dweller admitted, ignoring the obsession. He pushed his glass along the bar toward Honeyman. “Try this.”
“What is it?”
“Dark Corner. The best brown ale ever.”
“The best?” Honeyman asked.
“Has the Master Taster tried it?”
“These beers don’t need his endorsement,” the moat dweller replied. “Besides, that Master Taster Endorsement Program is outdated.” Suddenly he hunched over his beer and lowered his voice. “Okay, here’s the story. The alien mason doesn’t know anything about controlling weather. That’s a ruse. He really controls space junk.”
“The space junk that orbits the earth. There’s a ton of it up there, broken satellites, old warheads, antennas, even flecks of paint can cause damage traveling at that speed. It’s much easier than controlling weather.”
Honeyman thought quickly. “So could he…”
“…I know what you’re thinking,” the moat dweller interrupted. “Could the aliens direct the space junk at the Queen’s enemies. The answer is yes. But would they is another question.” The moat dweller picked up his beer and drained it. “Sweaty!” he yelled, waving at the bartender.
“Her name is Svetlana,” Honeyman said.
“Sweaty to me,” the moat dweller replied. “I’m the one who hired her.”
“You should call her by her name, Svetlana. She’s beautiful.”
“Nice ass, eh?” the moat dweller replied, admiring Svetlana’s backside as she reached to pour a beer.
“You better not touch her,” Honeyman warned.
“Don’t worry, she can handle herself,” the moat dweller replied. “About this alien. I can get it done…what’s in it for me?”
“Me, me, me…” Honeyman let his voice trail off while his mind raced for an approach that would work. “How about wheat beers in The Beer Queendom?”
The moat dweller’s eyes widened and he sat silently while Svetlana set another beer in front of him. “I don’t believe you,” he finally said.
“Suit yourself.” Honeyman congratulated himself He had stumbled upon a solution that would not only ensure the moat dweller’s assistance, but allow him to introduce a few long overdue changes into The Beer Queendom. Like any utopia, some changes were needed. “When does this place close?” he suddenly asked.
“Never,” the moat dweller replied. “Why?”
Honeyman motioned toward Svetlana. “I was thinking I would walk her home tonight.”
“You’re still affected. You’ll get over it,” the moat dweller lied.
“I don’t want to get over it.”
“I can get you a better one,” the moat dweller said.
“I want her. I want to marry her.”
“Look, I gotta go,” the moat dweller said, finishing his beer.
“Wait,” Honeyman replied, thinking that he may need the moat dweller’s help. “How do I know this whole alien space junk thing is legitimate?”
The moat dweller stopped and looked at the Honeyman impatiently. Then lowered his voice again. “You remember the Yellow Ribbon Conspiracy?”
“Who doesn’t?” Honeyman replied. Years ago—it seemed like eons—a mysterious, spontaneous explosion of yellow ribbons pasted on automobiles had killed tens of thousands of people. It had been written into history as a manufacturer defect but many called it a conspiracy. Websites across the world pondered the unexplained details, and rumors and innuendo swirled until no clear answer could emerge.
“That was the alien Freemason,” the moat dweller said. “They decided it was the most effective way to save the planet.”
“By getting rid of the mindless group that follows the Warmongers.” After a long silence, interrupted only by the clink of glasses and low murmur of voices, the moat dweller added, “Innocent people got killed. But no one seems concerned about that when the Warmongers are let loose. The aliens decided it was fair turnaround.”
“Why are you telling me this?”
“You should know who you’re dealing with,” the moat dweller replied. “They don’t mess around at this level.”
“Who is they?”
“The aliens behind the alien Freemason.”
“I understand.” As the moat dweller turned to go, Honeyman added, “Let me know about the arrangements. If you like the wheat beer idea, the time to move is now. The Queen is going over her list of new beers next week, to decide what she will bring into The Beer Queendom. She’ll have to come up with a plausible plan to sell to her people on wheat beers again.”
“So it’s alien assistance for wheat beers is it?” the moat dweller summed up.
“And Svetlana’s freedom,” Honeyman added.
“You’ll have to convince her of that, she’s got a mind of her own.” The moat dweller fumbled around in his pockets for a moment. Then, as if the idea just occurred to him, said, “I known what you can do to get her attention.”
“Leave the tip. Better, pay the whole tab with some of that Beer Queendom money. It’s good here. Make the tip a big one.”
“Thanks,” Honeyman said, reaching for his wallet.
“Don’t mention it. Anything to help you get in your new girlfriend’s pants.” The moat dweller stood and headed toward the door, leaving an empty pint glass and a paid bar tab.
Next issue, the treaty that saved the world.
By los Testigos de Cerveza
Copyright 2006, Rocky Mountain Brewing News