I got a call recently, a voice hard to hear at first, lots of static.
“Hallo, might you be Mr. Beer et Seq?”
“They call me that sometimes”.
“My name is Maximilan, your name was conveyed to me by an acquaintance in Celeste”.
“Ce-leste? I don’t know that town, where might that be?”
[Maximilian].“It is far from Canada, but right now I am hoping you can assist us. We haven’t had any connections with the fine City of Toronto for a long while, and will have business there, presently”.
“Okay, how can I help?”.
[Maximilian]. “Robert, my associate, and I are planning a journey to Toronto of a professional, investigative nature. We are technical men who advise the brewing occupations, and wish to meet a gentleman in Toronto with pertinent knowledge of the local industry”.
“Oh I can help I think, sure”. [I’m thinking, this guy must be very aged, he talks a little funny, but people live and work longer these days… Might be a good contact, why not?].
[Maximilian].“We arrive at Toronto’s main station by Pullman and will take another train, partly subterranean, to the Eglinton station. Will you join us for supper in that ward? By all means suggest a fine establishment. You are our guest and I won’t brook any other arrangement”.
“Okay, how about Wings & Slosh, and don’t let the name scare you, they have a great selection of beers”.
[Maximilian]. “What an odd name for a licensed establishment. It’s not a dive bar, is it? We can’t abide standing at the bar in any city, that’s not how to drink beer you know. And we don’t like whisky”.
“Oh it’s a cool place, we’ll sit down and I’ll walk you through our beer scene”.
[Maximilian]. “‘Cool place’ … ‘walk through’? You Canadians do speak differently, don’t you. Very well, it’s all arranged, thank you Mr. Beer et Seq, we will meet you next Wednesday at the Wings & Slash at the stroke of 7:00 pm. It will be excellent to visit the Queen City again, ha!”.
[I show up at the appointed time and immediately notice two gentlemen in rather odd clothing in the corner. Like what some people wore in 1970, wire glasses and foppish suits. I wave to them to come over].
“Hi, I’m Beeretseq, how was your trip?”
[A hand extends]. “I’m Maximilian, you may call me Max. Oh our journey went off very well. The subway here resembles that in our first home, Chicago. The signal system is just like the ‘L’ line there. We were impressed by the telephonic system which declares each station by public address as the car arrives. And the use of lady conductors is novel and salutary. I must post the leading transportation men on my return. Now, meet my associate, Robert”.
“Hello Robert. Good to meet both you gents. Hope you like the city”.
[Robert]. “Oh, we do. We are staying at a hotel across the station, the Royal York. It is much as we remember it from a brewers’ congress here a long time ago. The station is quite unchanged in fact, a little cleaner maybe. But what are those incandescent notebooks with wires everyone carries! I’ve never seen such a thing, and need to learn all about it. My doctoral studies at Thuringen were in electricity – I knew Edison you see”.
[Maximilian]. “Many of the ladies seem to wear beach attire in public here, why is this?”
“Oh, crazy hot summer. Who did you say knew me in Ca-lest, how do you spell that?”
[Robert].“Mr. Beeretseq, there is imperative business, can you summon for us a typical selection of beers served in this quarter? Include any ale or porter that may still be sold”.
“Sure, no problem. Hey Miss, can you bring each of us three halves of Canadian, Boneshaker, and Steam Whistle? Bring them together”.
[Server].“Coming right up”. [Whispers to me: “Your friends are strange, I gotta say, but we do get a mixed crowd here”].
[Beers duly arrive]. “Okay this is Molson Canadian, a lager from Molson-Coors. Very popular here, what do you think?” [Each takes a sip].
[Maximilian, gazing at Robert with furrowed brow].“Mr. Beeretseq, don’t conflate two establishments, the Coors concern is in the far west and your fine John Molson’s Brewery is in Montreal. But we are glad to taste Molson’s lager, low fermentation must be quite novel for them. I suppose the kegs travel west on insulated and artificially cooled cars?”
“Um, yeah, something like that. So tell me what you think”.
[Maximilian]. “Quite like our best lager at home, less satiating and the hop blend is singular, but very good, with excellent yeast health. Molson’s is clearly committed to pure yeast culture, I am quite taken with this production”.
[Robert]. “I concur with Max, now onto the next one. A beer without a second to follow is not an outing, we always say”.
“Yeah, me too. Okay this is Boneshaker, an India Pale Ale, about 7% abv”.
[Maximilian].“Now this is capital, zestful aroma and quite evidently the best Oregons and New York hops are used, there is no stinting either. It’s present-use ale of course. We like beer that way, it hasn’t the chance to absorb foreign organisms in the stock rooms. And 7% is a good stimulant level for bitter beer. The ales I see on the tables around us come less bright than we are accustomed to, but we get it. Totally”.
“‘Get it?’ That’s not how you have been talking so far!”
[Maximilian]. “Yes, well before your arrival we had a palaver with the server girl here, Freja. She was born in the same old country I am from, before my parents landed finally in Chicago. She was explaining some of your local customs and expressions”.
[Robert]. “In passing, I must tell you we much admire the quality of edifices in Toronto, and so tall! Louis Sullivan must have acolytyes here of the first class, and the materials employed are revolutionary in my estimation, especially the plate glass and chromium”.
“Another beer gents? Try this lager, made right downtown here in Toronto”.
[Maximilian sips]. “Another beer of topmost grade. I never had better even in Bavaria, where the pilsener type is all the go now”.
[Robert]. “Mr. Beeretseq, regarding another type of beverage, can we purchase Canadian Club whisky in this saloon?”
“You think? But I thought you said you didn’t like whisky”.
[Maximilian]. “As a firm rule we eschew spirits on any occasion, but when distant from Celeste we sometimes indulge, for professional reasons. We examine if the stability is affected by the shipment, as there is first the water-voyage, then different atmospheres, temperatures, pressures.
“Here’s two shooters of CC, tell me what you think”.
[Robert]. “Now, no talk of violence Mr. Beer et Seq, we knew these disruptions in Chicago all too well“. [Each downs the shot bob’s your uncle].
[Robert]. “Excellent! Just like in bottle at home, clean and rich with no empyreuma or other faults. Their QC rocks, dude”. [Maximilian nods enthusiastically].
“Er, glad you like it”.
[Maximilian].“Mr. Beer et seq, our visit has been much too brief, but instructive and efficacious. Thank you. We must depart instantly, as we have pressing business in the early morn, at a scientific station in Galt here in Ontario. An Uber is out front and the Royal York Hotel awaits us. We have dealt with the saloon’s bill, don’t sweat it”.
“Wait a minute, don’t go, I want to talk more!”. [Still, the men straighten their odd black clothes and stride towards the door with walking stick. A noisy bus goes by raising a huge cloud of dust. Half-obscured in the haze they hail the Uber, then are gone. I say to Freja, the server, “Is it true you are from Europe?”. She replies: “Yes, I lost the accent a while back. Your friends are hilarious, Max spoke like my grandparents when I was a kid. Not the usual crowd here but after a while they fit in well. Bring them back any time. Dude“. [Laughing].
Note re images: the first image above, in the public domain, is from the Wikipedia entry on Toronto’s Union Station, here. The second image was sourced from the website of the Royal York Hotel, here. Images used for educational or historical purposes. All intellectual property therein belongs solely to the lawful owners, as applicable. All feedback welcomed.