(Note: This is the fourth in a series of posts about the first meeting of three online friends.)
At age 37, I finally found a beer I like. More on that later.
The appetizing aroma of Moonshot’s Irish stew in the Crockpot welcomed us back from the Adrenaline Zone. Conversation wandered from our blogs to topics that we probably never will post on them. Despite the written nature of our relationships up to that point, repartee came naturally.
Simon in a daze of 40 sleepless hours and the rest of us tired, we played a hand of a Zombie card game and reported to our respective beds shortly after 11 o’clock.
Saturday morning I awoke at about 7 o’clock to sounds familiar to my weekends: a child after a good night’s sleep. Norah giggled and shrieked happily in the living room with Moonshot. The difference this time was that I, too, had slumbered sufficiently. (Note to self: do that more often.) I lay there flat on my back for at least 15 minutes, wondering what the day held for us.
I wandered to the sun room and saw Simon sleeping soundly. Bright sun lit up his blankets, but a swath of shade covered his face. I quietly walked back through the kitchen to the dining area, where I had a clear view of Moonshot and Norah at play.
Norah rushed over to me. “Hi, Norah. Good morning,” I said. She smiled as her blue eyes peeked out through her bangs. She blurted out happy babytalk and scampered back to her mommy.
Arlo the Scottish Terrier barked and growled.
A few moments later, Moksha walked through the front door bearing a box of fresh bagels from Panera Bread Company. We moved to the kitchen’s breakfast nook and got our fill of the delicious dough rings.
Simon wandered into the kitchen. “Did I hear someone mention chocolate chip?” he said. He has a thing for the tiny, sweet morsels.
Moksha rummaged around in the bagel box. It turned out the Grens had devoured all three of the chocolate chip bagels — except Norah, who still was busy licking the cream cheese off of hers. Our taunted token Canadian bravely soldiered on and we prepared for our next scheduled venture.
The Beers and the Butterfly
Although Anheuser-Busch (think Bud) is beer king in St. Louis, several microbreweries have established a strong following, thanks in part to the St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival. Dubbed “Brewfest” by locals, it offers up more than 60 varieties of beer, sampled from a 3-oz commemorative glass.
Moksha had made it a point to score tickets early, and not being a beer fan, I volunteered to be the designated driver.
We three kings of pale skin — “I’m the translucent man,” Moksha said — slathered on sunscreen during the ride downtown in Moksha’s Mini Cooper. For once, I wasn’t the only one, and it was a moment of unspoken kinship.
We parked and slogged through a muddy field to reach the beer tents. At about 65 degrees, the weather was perfect for huddling under canopy ceilings with hordes of drunken strangers.
I watched as Moksha and Simon started out drinking a full 3-oz glass of each beer. About halfway through the first tent, already feeling the effects and knowing another tent was coming, they switched to drinking half and then swapping glasses.
We saw butterfly girl somewhere near the end of the first tent. I tried to get a picture of her tattoo while Moksha and Simon struck a fake pose, but I couldn’t get close enough. We ended up talking to her and asking if I could take a picture. “Yes, but only the top part,” she said. A flower stem extended below the butterfly into the lower half of the young lady’s blouse.
This left us wondering, of course, what was down there.
Working our way down the table of taps, we tried to predict what kind of beer I might like. I sipped a few and grimaced at varying levels. “It’s the hops you don’t like,” Moksha declared.
“Okay,” I said.
“Here, try this one,” he said as he held out his glass full of a medium brown beer.
I wasn’t hopeful, but I tried it. It went down smooth, with not even a hint of bitterness, and none of what I have come to call “that beer taste.” I know what you’re thinking. Was it raspberry? Blackberry? Come on, what kind of fruity specialty beer did Mark like?
In fact, it was a Belgian Dubbel. After further research, I found that a dubble typically includes “dark candy sugar.” I’m a bit disillusioned that I had found yet another beverage I like that requires sweetener. It doesn’t taste sweet, however, so I’m okay with that.
It also figures that the beer I like is not the easiest to find, and that I probably won’t find it on draught anywhere in our area. Following is a clip of the three of us. Click the play button and wait a moment.
If you have problems playing this in the browser, then download it instead.
In the lager tent, Butterfly Girl and her all-male crew lit nearby. A woman who overheard us talking about the tattoo said, “Oh, do you want a picture of the whole thing? Here, we can ask her.”
One time as the freak with the camera was enough. “No, that’s okay. I’m good.” I took a long draw off my bottled water.
We hit the food tent, where we met up with Moksha’s brother and his friends. After eating, I saw that Goldstein had left behind his parking ticket and his Beerfest stub. “Hey, we need to find the unbearded Jew,” I said.
It’s moments like that I like being around drunk people. Moksha laughed and latched onto the moniker.
Back in tent number two, Butterfly Girl stopped as she walked by, obviously very drunk. As we tried to interpret her slurred speech, a bulky fellow approached and introduced himself as her brother-in-law. He complimented my D100, which he said he uses, and escorted Butterfly Girl back to her fold.
At closing time, Simon bought a pretzel big enough to feed a family for a week. As the food vendor worked to button up his wares, I commented that $5 was a lot for a small bag of chocolate chip cookies. We haggled down to $3, but I passed.
Moksha caught up with us as Simon bought a shirt and I bought a pen (they were out of the commemorative glasses). We slogged back through the field and I got behind the wheel of the Mini, directed by a slightly drunk American and flanked by a drunk, pretzel-bloated Canadian.
Coming up Monday: the most indoor fun I’ve had in decades, at a place found only in St. Louis.