‘So, let me get this straight, yeah?’ Josh says. ‘This beer we’re brewing is a Belgian Tripel, but with some late hops that give it a bit of the character of an IPA?’
‘And this is a style made famous by monks brewing in monasteries in Belgium? Trappist monks?’
‘I told you,’ Bill hisses. ‘You can’t say the ‘T’ word! It’s protected. It’s like calling your wine “champagne”, or saying “Macbeth” in the theatre. Nobody in the brewing industry is allowed to …’
He breaks off. There is a robed figure in the doorway, a hood concealing its face. Josh turns to see it and jerks with shock.
‘Oh, God. Now you’ve done it,’ says Bill.
‘Whoa,’ says Josh, eyes wide. ‘So you appeared because I said the word Tra–’
Bill clamps his hand over Josh’s mouth just in time. They take a step backwards and they are already hard up against a fermenting vessel. There’s nowhere left to go. From one of the monk’s sleeves a crooked finger extends and is placed in front of the lips, or at least where the lips should be.
‘Josh, why can’t you just be quiet?’ whispers Bill.
The finger comes down from the faceless hood and points directly at Josh, then at one of the bottles of beer, and finally makes a beckoning motion.
‘Do what he says, boy.’
Josh creeps over to the bottle and with shaking fingers takes the cap off. He pours the contents, straw-coloured and vigorously fizzy, into a glass. He holds it out at arm’s length. The monk takes it, and the glass disappears into the shadows of the cowl.
Bill can only hope he’ll approve of what they’ve done with his beer. He’ll be getting an aroma of peach, banana and lemon. He sips, and Bill imagines he can taste what the monk is tasting: a whole range of soft fruits, including peach, apricot and banana, plus some bitterness which is as much due to the alcohol as the hops. A bubbly texture, like champagne but softer. After swallowing, a lingering booziness to finish things off, but not enough that you’d realise the beer is 8% alcohol.
The monk puts the glass down, nods once, and is gone. Bill and Josh let out a sigh of relief.
‘That was rad,’ Josh says. ‘So every time we want a cool monk to turn up at the brewery, all we have to do is say the word Tra–’
Bill knees Josh in the balls. The kid has to learn somehow.
Written by Richard Salsbury
Note: Bill and Josh do not exist. I made them up. The brewing monk, on the other hand …