Spike Milligan once said he envied laughter of children. He'd lost their capacity for pure, unbridled joy. Was his comedy just a vain attempt to recapture that feeling?
Today was brewing day at De Molen. Not just any brewing day. Brewing my Whitbread 1914 SSS day. I even got to help. I weighed out the hops and tipped them into the boiling wort. They even let me rake the spent grains out of the mash tun.
(I was thinking of metaphors last night while I was trying to fall asleep. The slashing sword of sedition. Spitting arrows of spite. Are they metaphors? I went to school at a strange time. English grammar wasn't taught. All mine comes from learning foreign languages. Could explain my English.)
Even before I crossed the threshold, I was transported back to my youth. The warm, comforting, sweet malt bath of mashing. Magnus Grammar, my secondary school, was just a couple of hundred metres from the Castle Brewery. Our playground was washed with the aromas of brewing every day. That's mashing and boiling. Now the odour of fermenting, that I associate with my one brief professional connection with the brewing industry. The summer of 1975, when I filled kegs at the Castle Brewery. AK. IPA. Whatever the Mild was called (no-one I've asked can remember its name). Have I told you this before? Give me a kick if I start repeating myself.
Menno (the brewer at De Molen) let me try his new Imperial Stout, Tsarina Esra, bottled and draught. It's the one he let me taste very young last time I was there. I'd give it a four dead rating - dead, dead, dead, dead good.
Did I tell you that I hadn't had a beer since last Wednesday? I was ill and couldn't stomach a beer, then I thought I'd give my poor, wasted body a couple of days rest. At 9 AM I broke my fast with Tsarina Esra. It's 11% ABV. Let's consult my notes: "Thick, chewy and delicious. Chocolate, liquorice, leather, elderberry, blackcurrant, roast - it has it all plus some."
I'm a lucky guy. A very lucky guy. Poor Spike, losing his capacity for joy unbound. But he didn't get to see his own beer brewed.
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