First Friday

I should’ve taken a picture, but I didn’t, so here’s as good a description as I can give: a brewer, forklifting a pallet of grain over to the mill this morning, slid on the ice and the battered old ancient French Broad Brewery-style electric forklift, aka “Clark”, it of the mysteriously dandruffy battery and the bent frame and the hilarious little horn, that three tons of brute, one-wheel-drive inertia became so godawfully stuck in the frozen murk right flat up against an eight foot wood fence that all of us who went to look could only gawk helplessly for as long as we could stomach the windchill-aided negative 8-degrees of 2014’s first Friday. Whatever was to be done had to be done quickly on account of that battery there was ticking dead and fast.

(Digression: have you heard about this Swede who invented a watch that ticks down to your expected death? Calls it the “Ticker,” does the Swede. You input some specs–D.O.B., gender, smoking or non–and voi lah, the numbers start reeling down. This is maybe what happens to you if you watch too many Ingmar Bergman movies.)

One time the forklift just got plum forgot about outside and the battery died and three days it sat there, in the way, useless, like a dead whale on your doorstep. Nothing worked. Attempts at towing only warped the metal frame and burnt a lot of rubber. Finally farmer Dale, who since the beginning of Asheville’s craft brew awakening has fed his cattle with the industry’s spent grain, he pushed it around to the charger with his 15-year old F-150. Ford freaking Tough indeed. Got a bumper sticker I don’t understand that says “If it ain’t RED it stays in the shed!”

Without a forklift our backs would break. All of them. One after another. Crack! Crack! You, sitting right there, you’d go to the store and there’d be no more Wee-Heavyer, no more canned Kolsch, no more delicious Ryehopper 22s.

So we got a tow-truck operator over here stat and this guy, was he a pro or what? Turns out Peter took a picture:



I didn’t see it, because it’s “To Build a Fire” cold out there and dying on Friday was not among my New Years resolutions, but this guy had a winch and a boom and the whole nine yards. Ten minutes after backing onto the scene he drove away, having rescued us from paralysis. Peter said he took two calls for jobs while here and that he ended both with “Nothing’s free or cheap today.”  We’re only getting just the western edge of this blizzard, aren’t we? I heard thousands of flights were cancelled. Local writer Catherine Campbell on Facebook wrote, rather arrestingly, I thought, “The 900 miles that keep two people apart have disappeared under snow.” Smoke breaks are hurried, glasses are fogging up, everyone is blowing on their hands. 2013 never did deliver for us here in Asheville, but around eight last night the mountains fell silent and snow drifted in. We watched the noiseless white static stream through the halo of light around the streetlamp, then took a crunching walk around the neighborhood. In wonderment, of course, because look at it.

Well, we’re open. You might call first in case conditions close the Tasting Room a little early, but here we are, seven beers on tap. A pinch of ale is the pepper to the snow’s salt, no?  A whole year of living’s in front of us. It’s $3.50 for a pint but the weather and the conversation are free.