Brahe’s Brew #52

Excerpt on the topic of Brew #52, Bi-Solar Brewer’s Digest, Issue #52, Author: Halcyon Hardburn of the Intergalactic Taster Society.

The life of a brewer is a joyous life, but oft complicated nonetheless; choose the grain, boil the malt, pitch the yeast, adjuncts to taste, then it’s barrel to keg to glass to porcelain, and lather, rinse and repeat. The life of a brewer in space can be a bit more of an experience. Do you use half gravity grains for the extra spacey aroma? Do you want an exotic yeast from a distant star? If you choose that yeast, what’ll it do when it discovers the sugars of your strange brew and begins digesting?

Brahe Brewing of the Procyon system is no stranger to these concepts, but perhaps not because of an innate knowledge. Brahe Brewing’s brewmaster, a short, stocky lad known only as Dizzy, chooses to do things the old fashioned way. Tossing aside the traditions of interstellar brewing for what’s known as the good-old-way; instead of sterile tanks and oxygen pumps, it’s wood casks and open fermentation, with no lids at all. As any good brewer knows, however, an open fermentation is a dangerous things. In the days before travel, before interstellar flight, an open fermentation meant that contamination was common. If you made sours, you made only for it was simply infeasible to clear the bacterium and wild yeasts from the air. This was solved in the 20th and 21st centuries through sterilization and a very careful process of isolation, but is known to any novice starting out, and that’s why Dizzy’s brew stands out. That’s why Brahe’s brew is so prized, and so difficult to obtain.

It’s interstellar yeasts that give Brahe’s brew its taste. A buzz that never fails on half a glass of the best, followed by three stages of decontamination in order to avoid joining Brahe Brewing as the newest member of the staff. There’s even a patch you earn once done, so all good pilots will know you’ve conquered that single glass of Brahe’s brew. Each ingredient has a story, but the yeast speaks volumes, and volumes speak of the yeast in the realms of chemistry and biology.

The brewery itself takes a wide orbit around Procyon B, using the bright star to nourish the numerous crops in the hydro-ring. The station itself consists of four rings around a cylindrical center, and rotates in order to maintain the gravity necessary to hold all of the brew in the casks. At half grav, the yeast goes mad, the natural carbonation stays in your nose(and stomach) longer than necessary. The rings, in order of starward and out are the hydro-ring for growing wheat, barly, and hops, the water-ring, for water purification and ice-melt, the bio-ring, for keeping their special cultures happy, and the shipping and receiving dock.

The infrastructure is not without reason, and neither is the quarantine. While the greenery is all old Sol cultures, and the ice-melt from passing asteroids, the culture ring is where the contamination first began. A yeast is predictable under standard conditions, but a wild yeast, particularly of… let’s say extraplanetary nature, might be a bit harder to contain. Yeast will consume, produce, and multiply, and in brew the thing they consume are usually sugar. The wildcard most of the time is that the yeast or bacteria is often happy to take to the air and find more delicious consumables if possible. Some yeast, it turns out, do not simply thrive on sugar alone. After a bountiful mission to a local rock, the crew came back with more than they could handle. Most yeasts take quite a while to culture in the lab, but this was no usual strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and within 24 hours had filled a petrie dish, taken to the air, and found new hosts.

Seemingly harmless to the physiology of the brewers aboard the station, analyzation by a team of specialists showed that the gut bacteria, the tear ducts, and sweat glands and all nature of membrane of each and every employee had been thoroughly contaminated and now produced in addition to their normal secretion, the newly dubbed Somniinebrius Exilarum. Once the host has been “chosen,” the yeasts prove impossible to remove, including through the use of anti-biotics, vaccination, radiation therapy, and all manner of advanced treatment.

Despite this virulance, Somniinebrius Exilarum does provide several effects, and all in the name. Somni – sleep – is something of a biologists joke, as the yeast provides all manner of stimulant in order to keep the occupant awake. From cell regeneration to cortizol to serotonin. This, mind you, provides some amount of neurosis to the infected, as they go a bit battey for understandable reasons, but that, it seems, is managed by the other effect of the yeasts… inebrius, as in “inebriated.” The hosts are left in a perpetually tipsy state. As the yeast consumes, produces, and propagates, the alcohol produced is fed straight into the host. Their breath is said to be permanently beery, lightly flammable, and intoxicating all on its own.

All of this has lead to the permanent quarantine of Brahe Brewery, but nevertheless the work continues, and the brewers, always happy to do so, brew on. So how does one even receive a pint of this virulant brew? Read on…

After the brew is produced, it’s carefully packed into cans as traditional. All carbonation is removed from the brew, and the brew itself packed into probes. If, say, you’ve arranged for a shipment, the probe is launched, and picked up several light seconds minimum from the station at prearranged rendezvous points kept secret by the recipients. Upon receipt, it must be treated as a biohazard, and run through the highest levels of contamination until it can be certain that the payload has been cleansed of these yeasty beasties, at which point the cans are unloaded, yet live.

The tap rooms fortunate enough to receive that special approval are put under temporary quarantine and lockdown, and the tasting room opened for only pre-approved guests. From consumption to decontamination only seven hours may pass before the consumer is considered contaminated beyond reason, and even then, some will not make it through the decontamination process. Those who do not, or those who overstay their welcome, will be considered new employees, and promptly sent to Brahe for work assignment, with their ships and supplies added to the station. The tap rooms, often sent that way too, as they are frequently uncleanable as well. Thankfully, Brahe is known to be quite the raucous, yet joyous place.

Finally, the flavor: lightly herbal, with an aftertaste of citrus, though not bitter, a sweet malt, nose of grapes and something I’m told was known as a “bananana” back on Sol in the 19th and 20th centuries. This is followed by a perfectly beery finish, and an inexplicable floaty feeling as though you’re back in zero G.

So why all the fanfare? Well, the brew is splendid…


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