The Last Beer Festival
We miss beer as it was, how we drank beer as we did, and how we hoped the community and
culture could grow into something more along the way. To do that, especially distanced from
one another, the future comes down to how we grow now, alone with ourselves, living in the
shadow of the last beer festival. While PorchDrinking.com typically publishes non-fiction news, features and long-form stories, this is a creative fiction piece from author, Tyler Malone.
Go on, try to count bubbles on your tongue. Where there were stumbling shadows as dark as beer spills, grass now grows. The world reclaims festival grounds and parks. But we’ll be back. We’re still here, most of us, and we’ll be back in lines waiting for beer, early to late, worshiping at our sunburned church. It wasn’t church but it was certainly something we believed to be a religious experience. We don’t have bodies, we are bodies. We don’t have livers, we are livers. Our bodies are for our pleasure to live with but we don’t think about the end of happiness, life in the sunset of sickness, until it happens. We were all in dying light but didn’t know it. And we’re still here, thinking about then.
We tasted wonder on lips and hoped something so delicious hasn’t destroyed hearts and lives millions of times over. We were in the company of the last strings of pretzel necklaces lost in bearded sweat beads nodding as the last man explained hop profiles to a 26-year-old female brewery lab scientist before they broke away for the last time to find the last beer enjoyed behind one anothers’ backs. They weren’t in this alone, we’ve all seen it and heard it. Please. I’ve had too much. Lost people, found phones. This is disgusting. Have you tried this? Hazy. Clean. I hate this. I love you. I hate them.
Drinking with strangers, it was no home but it could be a family. Count old bubbles but still taste beer on your teeth paired with names of friends as new forgotten memories were made to be forgotten.
Occasionally sacred but always scarred check-ins on cracked phone screens showcased family photos of who and what loves drinkers — a life that exists past glass. In search of… What’s for trade? White shoes, heels stained in green cascade, sink into fresh festival lawns in conversation as unsteady as bulbous knees that stood strong before wide strides to Port-a-Potties to not wash hands. Now which glass was mine?
I’ve had too much?
I’ve had too much.
Where to next?
Can we please leave now.
I’m not drunk.
I’m a waste.
The whole world spins. Drunk or sober, it never stops. But, fuck, I’m drunk.
Trading sips, trading experiences in social media influencer preset selfie tones. Everyone’s photos are everyone else’s life while beer pun names stuck to teeth like a bat exploring a mouthful. One by one, we lost count of everything, especially ounces that led to pounds. It’s rare to know how sweet life tastes but we did it all the time. Over seasons, we didn’t think it would stop.
Remember love? It still exists without tickets, VIP or general admission. Someone made beer for you to enjoy, judge, criticize and it’s still being made for all of us. Palate. Diacetyl. Oh, I’m not drunk. God, I’m so drunk.
Wonder out loud how silence sounds now, the final gravity of the situation. Off flavors. Cask. Turbidity. Double down on ales and dip into lager waters. Sour. Beating a dead horse blanket with brewery representatives wearing different brands over equally drenched organs. We’re all one anothers’ exes getting over losing everyone by getting by with ourselves. Time is all that remains for lovers who can’t look one another in eyes but share lips on glass. IOU more ABVs. That first time, the first sip over and over until the last one we didn’t see coming. But you’re not in this alone. The best way to get over anything is to get under control. There aren’t festival lines but there are lines of us remembering the good and damning hope by ignoring the bad. Who we were is not what we are, what we’ll be. The world is the same, we need to drink again and drink differently. It’s ended and it’s stuck there forever. But we drink on.
Open beer, but it never closed. It’s come to this but it won’t always be this echo of burps, brags, groans about grains and who loves them more. Even now there’s some good news: not everyone is dead and beer exists. As we once transformed ourselves for others, we could transform ourselves for living. Beer isn’t closed but we need to be open. Don’t drink to new days to drink, drink for new days to hope, to cause less harm, to taste new words. All that was lost is not nothing but it can’t have been everything; it can’t have been the best version of what led up to the last beer festival.
Open beer, open a new world. Everyone knows it wasn’t the best in so many ways but everyone can’t wait for it to be back to forget the number of bubbles on the tongue, to remember how to forget words, to be the only person drinking.