If you’d have asked me back in junior high which teacher would have encouraged me to have a beer, or would have delighted in whatever level of expertise I may have acquired on the subject, I’ll admit to having Mrs. Jones pretty far down on that list. She was nice. Sweet. But didn’t seem so beery.
So imagine my surprise when Mrs. Jones shows up a couple of times at the Burrito and cheerfully orders a pale ale. And imagine my surprise when I get an email from my new comrade Roy Marshall a few weeks back. You see, Roy writes a local history column for the nearby Red Oak Express. He homebrews, and occasionally mentions both this hobby, as well as tidbits about the brewery owned by a fellow named Steinbrecher in the 1870s.
It’s an interesting story, which ends tragically when Steinbrecher hangs himself in response to the town going dry. Later, the brewery mysteriously burned to the ground. One of Roy’s readers asked what these beers may have tasted like, and, coincidentally, Roy was prepared to invite folks over, having just brewed a recreation. Roy figured he’d summon a small group of drinkers simply interested in a free beer.
Apparently, Roy hadn’t figured on Mrs. Jones reading his column. She quickly contacted him with my contact info and fictional-looking “credentials.” And there I was last night. Sitting under a tent at a table on an elevated platform alongside the other two “judges:” a sweet lady who used to be a heavy homebrewer in what I’ll assume are the pre-Jimmy Carter days, and Paul Kavulak, the driving force behind Nebraska Brewing Company, in Papillion, Nebraska.
The beer was light, quaffable and perfect for this summer evening with strangers-turned-friends. But that’s not all. I brought a couple of my beers, my Shindig Belgian Pale Ale and what was left of my Padre Patersbier, and Paul brought an assortment of his Nebraska beers: wit, German wheat, alt, pale ale and barrel-aged barley wine.
Everything was great, and I sorta wished Mrs. Jones had been there. Just because.