A Hops' Thought On The Brewing Process
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The process of being made into beer was so benign, it was near maddening. A childhood spent growing in the fields wasn’t exactly a thrill seeker’s day out, to be sure, but it was at least what a plant was intended to do. Sit in the ground as a small seed, germinate, and slowly grow your way into a fully developed plant. With any luck, you’d spread seeds of your own and your duty in life would be done, and you could wither away into old age and rot into the soil below a happy plant.

Of course, such a simple, content life was rarely possible for a farmed plant like himself. You were modified over decades not to reproduce better, but to grow better. Grow grow grow, all other functions be damned. Some of you and your ilk may not even put out seeds anymore, modern science could replicate plants from almost any off cut of themselves that was bigger than a pinprick, but that was ultimately besides the point. The biggest insult, in your mind, was you were not even allowed a calm ending. Sure, plenty of your brethren ended up eaten by passing animals, maybe rarely they drowned or died of dehydration, or suffered some form of pestilence, when conditions worked against them, but the vast majority simply wilted as they reached the end of their natural lives, and then their body gave back to the soil below, as your nutrients went back into the earth from which they came.

However, such a life was not for you, your unlucky soul. Or well, whatever you have, you’re not entirely sure if plants do have souls, in a traditional sense. Your end came when the great growling metallic beasts came, constructed of iron and steel, powered by engines of internalized explosions that rattled your very core with their noise. You fell through the air- though “collapsed” was probably the better word- into a bed of wood and metal, and from there you were swapped from place to place, from truck bed to storage pile, from pallet to tractor trailer, from shipping container to pre-processing storage tanks. All of this effort, all of this industrial might, for such a disappointing end.

For the simple fact was that your cursed self didn’t even posses the luck to grow in a farm of any prestige, of a farm that supplied tens of thousands of tons of your kind to the highest quality of beverage manufacturers. No, you and your friends supplied a manufacturer of the lowest, cheapest swill. The kind of of vile, pale, watery liquid that even the drunkest young man would hazard to down. That they even managed to accomplish this- brew this foul did not appear by accident, or even by lack of skill- but make millions off the practice as well was perhaps the world’s cruelest and most unjust of jokes, as far as you could be concerned.

However, your concerns didn’t stretch far. For all your ramblings, you were simply one of millions of hops grown around the globe every year. Your words never reached the minds of another being, not to speak of the written or spoken word where they may do some good. So after a while, your mind retreated to simple, quiet anger and spite as you went through the twisting, and surprisingly intricate, industrial processes that were amazingly all required to produce cheap swill on such a monstrous scale.

With the production done, you entered again into a familiar routine, of swapping from box to pallet to shipping container, to transport truck, and now finally to the shelves of a small grocery store- really, a glorified convenience store- in some doldrum, small town out in the hills. Your anger still persisted, though it had faded further to more of a dull passive aggressive-ness, as your thoughts continued to stew and work themselves through. There was little else to do, after counting the tiles and the number of cracks in the ceiling for the hundredth time.

Finally, on a day abnormal only for the fact it hadn’t recently rained- you couldn’t see outside, but the humidity had subsided to the point where the rain at least wasn’t fresh, that much you could tell- a young man strolled in, looking down the aisles with more of an excited step than the store’s usual worn out patrons. He scanned the shelves, mumbled something under his breath, and grabbed the case you had been packaged into with one hand, grunting as he realized a case of 24 was quite heavier than he had expected. Now in an awkward carry, he lugged the case to the front of the store, handed some fresh, crisp looking bills to the cashier, and then re-enacted the awkward carry back out to his car. You felt strange at this, there was a faint optimism in the air, that had been long absent before. As loose gravel from the cheap, crumbling pavement sporadically kicked out from under the car as it bumped down the winding road, you almost felt a bit joyful, enough to push out the thoughts of how unpleasant being drank would feel.

The car rolled to a stop, and noise could be heard from just outside its thin, sheet metal walls. People talking and laughing, shouting and joking in a matter only describable as jubilant. The twinge of optimism you felt as you left the shop had morphed into a anxious joy at what was to come, and this feeling only strengthened as the door swung open and the man again lugged the case around as gracefully as a sack of rocks. The noise was almost deafening now, music emanating from a far corner of the yard, and people talked loudly to be heard over it. The case you were resting in was dropped onto a table that quietly shook under the newfound weight, and soon cans were being handed out to men and women alike.

As you were tossed to a young man with messy hair and a bright t-shirt—a good description of most in attendance, actually—you were filled with almost nothing but joy. Maybe this life, which you had cursed so thoroughly in your younger days as a simple farm plant, was not so bad after all. Maybe there was a fulfillingly content life to be found, even in a life so far removed from the natural one you idealized. Perhaps the life of a cheap swill beer had some bonuses to it, far from benign.

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