The story of Community Beer Works started long ago, well before you or I had first opened our eyes to see the blue sky, or indeed before any person had set foot on the ground on which we now sit.
The story begins back in the time when giants walked the earth, digging rivers and creating mountains when they fell for their final sleep. It was a time utterly unlike our mundane world, where the fantastical and incredible happened as a matter of course.
One such giant was named Frank. He roamed the countryside, searching for a place to call home. Frank was very picky, for he thought that if he was going to spend the rest of his life somewhere he ought to be completely happy. This place had too many mosquitoes; that place had an unpleasant reflection of the sun off the hills as it was thrown into the sky. (Back then, giants used the sun as a ball in a game they called Tyhmos-rwet, but that is a story for another night)
Eventually Frank found himself by a lake. We would call the lake “huge” or “great” but to giants it was merely normal-sized, as everything in those days was bigger than we find it now. He walked around the lake until it turned into a river, and he was enjoying himself so he kept moving. The river fell off a huge cliff, and Frank spent three days jumping from the top into the water below, climbing back up to do it again.
Frank then realized he was very hungry, and seeing only water and trees around him decided to continue down the river. He walked deep into the night before lying down and going to sleep.
When he awoke he found himself in a huge field of barley. He thought this was quite good and ate his fill of a barley soup his grandmother had taught him how to make. He looked around at the plentiful food and fresh water and decided that he had found his home. He gathered rocks from the riverbed and used them to build a house. He wanted it to be the grandest house anyone had ever seen, so he put in two giant-sized doorways, reckoning that he had only seen homes with one door and that two was always better than one. And that is how the building in which we sit came to be.
He lived like this for many months, eating his barley soup and drinking the water, until one day his friend Ninkasi came by. Being hospitable, Frank insisted she stay, and they baked bread and ate soup and drank water until late in the night. After each bowl of soup Frank would get up to wash the dishes, but Ninkasi would shout, “No! Come and sit with me a little longer,” and pour them each another bowl. Frank, not wishing to seem unfriendly, would sit back down and rip a piece of thick bread for each of them, and on the night went until they both fell asleep amidst the pile of dirty dishes.
They had eaten so much and stayed up so late that they slept for en entire week. Frank awoke first, and to his dismay saw twenty-three dirty bowls, each with a bit of barley soup in the bottom. Forlorn, he dumped them each into a clay pot so that he only had to make one trip to the river to dump it out. Ninkasi opened her eyes and declared herself famished, and to Frank’s surprise she took the clay pot and took three huge gulps. “Isn’t that horrible?” he asked, but she said,”No, it’s delicious! Try some!” He took two gulps and was shocked to discover the drink was not sour and foul but sweet and refreshing.
That night the two of them ate more soup and drank more water and slept for another week, and when they awoke the bowls once again contained the liquid, which Ninkasi named beere. She left to tell others about their discovery, while Frank made pots and pots of it, which he traded with his neighbors for other foods. The making and enjoyment of beer soon spread to every corner of the earth.
Frank spent his days making beer and sharing it with his neighbors, until one day he grew restless. He didn’t want to leave his home for good, but he had seen the same sight every morning when he got up for long enough, and giants are fond of novelty. He lashed five pots of beer together and filled a sack with bread and barley and vegetables and coffee (a concoction seven women nearby had discovered, the bitter taste of which he quite enjoyed) and walked east.
He walked until he could walk no more, for he had found an ocean. He thought that it had been a good trip so far and didn’t want it to end, so he made a boat and began sailing. He met others along the way, each of whom has their own story to tell, but this is the story of Frank and his beer so we will leave them be for now.
After many days Frank began worrying, for his food and beer were almost gone. He gazed sadly into the last clay pot, when he noticed it begin to ripple. The waves inside the pot grew larger, and soon the water outside the boat began to be choppy as well. The rumbling from beneath grew into a cacophony, until finally a giant mouth rose out of the sea and swallowed Frank and his boat whole.
Frank was quite worried, but he landed softly on something. It was completely dark, darker even than when Fox had stolen the moon, and Frank called out, “Hello?”
“Hello?” a deep voice answered.
“Where am I?” Frank asked.
“In my stomach, I expect,” said the voice.
“Oh. Well, if I’m to be riding in your stomach I suppose we should become acquainted. My name’s Frank.”
“I’m Whale,” the voice replied.
“Nice to meet you, Whale,” Frank said. “Say, I don’t want to inconvenience you, but do you think you could let me out?”
Whale didn’t mind, but when Frank said he was nearly out of food Whale offered to swim him back to the shore first. Riding inside of a whale is a completely unique mode of transportation, one which neither you nor I will ever fully be able to understand, whales today being less accommodating than they were back then.
When Whale reached the shore he told Frank to hold on, and he soon found himself on dry land, though stickier than he had been when he had last walked on it. He thanked Whale, who swam back off into the ocean. Frank realized how thirsty he was and reached for his last pot of beer.
When he looked inside he saw that some of the things Whale had eaten had mixed with the beer, turning it a dark brown color. He wept, for after such a long trip he had been looking forward to the last of his beer. Remembering Ninkasi’s willingness to try things, he took a sip. He began smiling, for it was perhaps even more delicious than what he had made originally! He rushed back home and used the rest of Whale’s Beer, as he called it, to flavor future batches.
And that, dear friends, is how Community Beer Works came to be. There are many more stories to tell, but for now I need to rest, and to drink a beer.