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You ever have one of those days?

A few weeks back, we were knee deep in a bottling marathon. It just seemed like every single time that we had a batch of beer ready to go, it needed to be bottled. These days, we are bottling about 80% of our beers with the rest going towards draft. The planets sometimes align and we get a whole week without having to operate the bottler(s)- we have two separate units. One for Six Packs and one for our bottle conditioned beers.

Sometime around Valentines Day, we had tanks of IPA, Old Viscosity and Judgment Day all ready to be packaged around the same time. This meant that in a 10 day span, we bottled 5 out of the 10 days. Bottling is an incredibly monotonous thing and as our bottling line(for the 22oz and 750mls bottles) is labor intensive. It means that we are often left spending hours on end doing the same task.

That particular week, I scheduled a bottling run for Monday-Thursday to get large batches of IPA and Old Viscosity packaged. It was on Wednesday around lunch that things got more interesting. Josh and I were running the filler with Vince capping all the bottles. I saw a flicker out of the corner of my eye over by the garden hose on the east side of the brewery.

I didn’t pay too much attention to it but then it moved again. So, I stopped my side of the filler and went to investigate. I found a very small mouse looking concerned about having ventured out of the wall from whence it came not knowing where to go next. This incredibly timid little creature managed to get trapped in the garden hose pile. Being “concerned” for his safety, I managed to corner him and “convince him” to jump into one of the cases from our bottling run. In the box, he knew that the walls were closing in on him and his days on this earth were numbered. He must have known because he started going bezerk and jumping up and down.

I laughed. “Escape is futile my friend. Your in my world now.” I showed Vince and Josh my prize new possession and we resumed bottling the beer with Josh seemingly very interested in our new little brewery mascot. As the bottles were going up and down, Josh must have dozed off like a high schooler in science class. Coming to, I soon found Josh filling a bottle cap with some Old Viscosity. “Hey, you think he’ll drink this?” He said?

“I don’t see why not,” was all I could come up with. And so it was that we began that afternoon a science experiment of our own. I have been called lots of things as a brewer and more often than not, people say we make some pretty incredibly experimental beers. I take it as a compliment. But this was an experiment of a different nature.

Josh set the bottle cap with Old Viscosity in the box and we watched as our new little friend investigated the merits of the dark oil slick like beer inside. Like a beer snob, the little bastard first smelled it. I’m surprised the alcoholic aroma didn’t burn his nose hairs. But like a good student of life (let’s not forget this was seemingly his first venture out into the real world), he plowed on. And plow on he did. He kept taking small nips out of the cap consuming Old Viscosity at an alarming rate.

The volume of liquid to body mass of beer he consumed was quite shocking. If he’d been human, I think he would have blown .44 for the officer that afternoon. We kept bottling and watching our new fury little friend become happier and happier with each sip. After a while, it was apparent that we had taken our new friend on a epic journey.

He started this epic journey with each step falling into the next. He would put one foot out straight before taking three steps sideways and falling over. Clearly this mouse was housed, pickled, polluted- 18 sheets to the wind. It was amusing to watch as he began walking in to the walls of the box and then chasing his tale.

At about 3 hours into the process, the mouse passed out. We weren’t even sure he was breathing (we were fresh out of miniature stethoscopes). Eventually the mouse (like most of us) passed out on his left side with his two right feet very much left hanging in the air. It must have been an amazing sleep. I can only think about it in these terms as drinking nearly ½ your bodies weight in Old Viscosity would have me reeling.

We finished bottling not knowing how our new home boy was doing. Josh took mercy on his condition and offered a piece of bread and some water (wait he wasn’t in jail for being intoxicated in public was he)? We left Mighty Mouse to “sleep it off” and retired for the night not knowing if our friend would ever recover from the happiest day of his life…I see trees of green… red roses too. And I think to myself…what a wonderful world!

Well HOLY MOSES! The next day when I arrived for work our little trooper was probably enduring the most wicked headache of all time. He was alive, awake but cowering in the corner twitching to the oldies. I was shocked that he was moving. Although to be perfectly fair, I don’t think he was moving all that well. We sort of watched from a distance that Thursday as he didn’t do all that much. Aren’t some friends just better when they’re not sober?

I don’t think that Mighty Mouse was feeling too terribly mighty that Thursday. We left him to his devices(he should have drank more water) before heading home that night. Friday was Black Friday. Josh had killed our little friend. Well, at least that’s how I view it. When we arrived on Friday, he wasn’t moving. Not a peep. “Come on little buddy. Give me one sign…” None came.

I gave him a proper dumpster burial and saluted his long and fortuitous life. I consider him to be the luckiest mouse to have ever lived. He got to enter the world being born at a brewery and it’s the only world he ever knew. He also got Stinking Drunk on Old Viscosity clearly leaving this world for a higher calling on his terms.

And so kiddies the moral of this story goes like this. You can drink all the Old Viscosity your body can handle. But if at the end of the day you try to drink your weight in beer, you may end up meeting a fate like our friend and fallen comrade. A toast then as we spill some beer for “the little guy.” Like the engine who could, he did. Sad to see him go. We’re going to miss you Amigo. “Say, I think I just saw your brother run by…I think I will introduce him to beer as well.

Happy April 1, 2007

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