The Brewsters

With all my posts about brewing here, you might think I’ve stopped writing… but I haven’t. Indeed, I have a short story or two on the go, and I’m hoping to have them go somewhere soon. One is called The Clockworks of Hanyang, which is developing nicely now (I posted about it close to a month ago, and it’s still developing, albeit slowly).

The other story is “The Brewsters,” a tale of post-apocalyptic brewing. The idea had occurred to me a few times, but finally when it came up during a discussion on the homebrewing board I frequent, I decided to really give it a go.

I’m a little concerned that it’s too hairshirty. I’m trying to balance depicting a community in a realistic post-biopocalyptic future, with having a story to tell that people might want to read. I don’t want my characters to be starving, desperate, or pitiful, but of course, they are living in what would be hell to us… and my protagonist is old enough to remember the way things were before the fall of postmodern civilization.

But I am having fun writing a story with a brewer and her craft front and center. I’ll probably submit it to the usual places, but I’ll also see if a reprint somewhere homebrewy might not be possible… or perhaps publish it electronically online once the rights free up. The funny thing is, it has this vague feel of a novel or something, though it’s NOT one. (It will be, at most, a novelette, I suspect.) That suggests some tightening will be necessary later on.

Either way, though, it’s fun to try think of how one would go about brewing potable beer for a whole community in a post-collapse situation. You have this weird combination of great knowledge and skill, pretty advanced equipment, but not electricity to run the machines and a certain degree of difficulty with water and energy supplies. It’s good fun to think about what solutions to those problems my protagonist would have come up with.

Anyway, that’s what… oh, except for a note on the word Brewster. While most of us probably think of it as a family name (remember Punky Brewster? uh, now she doesn’t look like that, of course..), the name comes (like Miller, or Smith) from a trade. “Brewster” was, until some point in the middle ages, the feminine form of brewer, and women had an important role not just in the responsibility for home-brewing, but also as brewsters in the public sphere. My brewster is a woman, and leads a small guild of women who take refuge in what she has established as the local brewery for Nanaimo, in what was once British Columbia, Canada… or, at least, in a post-collapse community named after that town.

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