Beer’s been everywhere, man

“I’ve been everywhere, man
Crossed the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere”

-Johnny Cash

Johnny CashSo I’m taking in a little piece of rural Americana yesterday. It’s been years and years since I’ve been to an auction. I used to go with my dad. My gramps, like many farm-dude old timers, found recreation in this pursuit. Along with many tools and pieces of junk, he bought a house at an auction (without previously discussing it with my granny, mind you).

Yesterday’s auction took place in an old, country church. It was beautiful and sad all at once. Populations drop and small churches close, a sorry fact.

As I stood in the throng, the sense of smell brought back memories: musty basement, old stuff and hog shit on boots. It had that weirdly pleasant aroma of an auction. Some wouldn’t understand how it smelled good, but then some wouldn’t understand the pleasure of a lambic. Then the audio: the rapidfire banter of an auctioneer practicing his craft over a mediocre sound system. Ah, memories!

I’m outfitting a restaurant, so have interest in kitchen equipment and anything else that might lend character. At the end of the day, I settle up. I’ve bought a gob-shite load of dishes for a fraction of their worth, as well as two ornate church pews. As we’re loading our goods into our trailer, I walk over to the two boxes of coffee cups.

Hi Brau Premium BrauThey’re not boxes; they’re cases! Brewed by Jos. Huber Brewing Company in Monroe, Wisconsin, these two Hi Brau Premium Beer cases are old school.

How did they come to be in this church basement? When? I thoroughly appreciate this moment and again consider the unwelcome Fate of this small, old church. Like a fading beer brand, it will be torn down and vanish from the landscape.

Gone, but not forgotten, and with relics spread across the land. There are always memories of the great works that took place there, the potlucks, the weddings and the funerals. There will always be memories, too, of Hi Brau, and its kin. For me, I will have an odd, sentimental spot in my heart for Hamm’s; Red, White and Blue; and Olympia, as I remember my dad drinking those beers. For others, it’s Genesee Cream Ale. With the myriad of beers that cross the threshold of our home, it’s hard to imagine which ones might remind my boys of me.

Today, I think about old, country churches. I think about Belgian monks that brew. I think about the circumstances in which hog crap smells good. And I think about how, like Johnny Cash, beer’s been everywhere. Even in a church basement.

3 Responses to Beer’s been everywhere, man

  1. Andy says:

    You must be from or near Iowa. I grew up there and can completely imagine what you described. Having grown up on a hog farm, and gone to my share of auctions, you’re dead on. Thanks for the blog…you brought me back home this morning.

  2. I remember slugging down that first pounder of Old Milwaukee on the dirt service road behind my house out in rural Central/Western PA. It was dusk and there were some left overs from a picnic just the day before. My cousin and I gagged back the bitter beery liquid, burping and thinking we were cool. Ahhh…the excitement of “getting away with it”.

    Thanks for bringing me back too :-)

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