Beverage Mysteries

Mysteries have always nagged at me – I want an explanation, not just an unanswered question.

Floggin’ Brews’ distributor is a mysterious character. Let’s just call them “they” – I am not sure if the person is male or female and I’ve never spoken with them. They don’t usually come when I’m around. Usually, I arrive for my shift and there are boxes of bottles and kegs of beer lined up in the back storage room, ready to be inventoried and put in their proper place.

But I don’t know how Mikhel places an order. I asked him once and he said, “We just let them know what we need.” If I had a request, he said, I should let him know and he’d make sure we had it in stock.

For all I know, Boss does the ordering. When the distributor comes when I’m working, it’s clear that Boss knows they’re on their way. She does an especially thorough job of grooming and starts hanging around the back delivery door. She greets the distributor with a bright “Mrrumph!” and allows them to pet Her. Then she watches them unload and seems to check everything out before hopping on a box and giving a brief meow before the distributor leaves. I’ve been working here long enough that this seems unremarkable.

What’s remarkable is what’s in the deliveries. There’s plenty of beers that any high-end bar could get: the favorites from Surly Brewing, something edgy from Flying Dog, hoppy brews from Laguinitas, the latest collaboration from Warpigs Brewing. But there are things that no one should be able to get, and I finally decided to ask Mikhel about them.

It was just after closing on a Wednesday. “So,” I said, “How do you get all these great beers?”

“What do you mean?”

I gestured to the taps. “You’ve got things here that shouldn’t be here.” He frowned at me. “No, I don’t mean they’re bad, they’re too good to be true.

“For example, Spotted Cow. There is no way we should have that on tap – they only distribute it in Wisconsin.”

Mikhel shrugged. “That’s not far away. I’ve got a connection to New Glarus Brewing.”

“Isn’t it a felony to sell it in Minnesota? No, wait,” I said on further reflection. “Don’t answer that.”

He gave me a grin. “As you wish. Any other questions?”

“Yeah, lots. How about the blond root beer?” We have great root beers on tap, and the most popular is Silver Creek Blonde Root Beer. It’s golden so it looks like beer, but it tastes like vanilla with a bit of wintergreen. “As far as I know it’s no longer being brewed. And the same goes for the Prairie Vanilla Noir.”

“Yes, that one’s Lola’s favorite,” nodded Mikhel. “I like to have a few things that our regulars love.”

“I guess that explains the Big Eddy,” I said. Mark is nuts over Big Eddy Russian Imperial Stout. It’s a seasonal beer, but we have it on tap all year round. I smiled, “And the Oude Tart.” That one’s mine. It’s a dark and sour red ale out of California. “So where do they all come from?”

Mikhel gave that shrug again. “The distributor must have some sources.”

I turned from the taps and started unloading the last of the glassware from the dishwasher. “And then there’s the Jägerbrew. That stuff shouldn’t exist at all.” Mikhel just gave me a look. By now, Boss had wandered over and appeared to be listening.

I decided to test my luck. “I have a couple theories.”

“Do you?”

“Yes. The first is boring: someone stockpiled the beers and is selling them until they run out.”

“Could be,” said Mikhel.

“Or,” I said, “there is someone out there who is a great counterfeiter. Who can recreate beers that no one makes anymore.” Boss gave a little huff at that.

“That would be a handy skill to have.” Mikhel paused as if to think about that. “Any other theories?”

I shook my head. “Not yet.”

“Aren’t you forgetting one?” His gave me a smile and an amused look.

“Am I? What is it?”

“The simplest of all. Time travel.”

That left me speechless for a moment before I spluttered, “Um, yeah, that would explain it.”

Boss made a chirpy noise that sounded like a laugh. I decided to stop theorizing and got back to work. Maybe I didn’t really want to know after all.

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