“Hey, you look worried about something,” I said to Harry as we were finishing up breakfast before heading over to the magical brewery this morning. I grabbed his hand across the table and gave it a squeeze. “Want to share?”
“You know I stayed up last night, most of the night, looking at that stuff Seph gave me?” he asked, and I cocked one side of my lip up and nodded at him.
“Yes, since the bed was rather chilly without you. I don’t care if it’s summer, this house is damned drafty.”
“Sorry, sweetie,” he apologized, “if I stay up that late again, I’ll make sure to put a Warming Charm on the bed.”
“That would be lovely,” I answered, “Now, what has you all contemplative this morning?”
“Two of the books I found in the trunk belonged to my mum and dad,” he explained, and I furrowed my brow, not quite understanding.
“I thought that everything in the trunk belonged to them?’
“It does, but these were different. There were their books, ones they’d written. Mum’s personal Potions book is in there. It’s every potion she created, starting with some projects at school, up to her working for St. Mungo’s. She made special potions for sick people or folks who’d done their magic wrong and needed to reverse the consequences,” he explained.
“That’s really cool, Harry. Your mum was helping people and she wrote it all down. What a great gift.”
“Yeah, some of the potions are really complex. She took part of one potion and combined it with part of another. I don’t know how she didn’t blow things up with her experimentations,” he sighed. “Even with Slughorn’s help, I couldn’t have managed it.” We both chuckled at that. Harry was good at potions, better than good, really, but a potions prodigy he was not.
“My dad had a bunch of journals in there from his work. Like, three or four of them, all full of discoveries and theories and explanations. It’s really interesting reading. There’s stuff the Marauders did at school, although most of that is really stupid. The intriguing work is from when he was on the job.”
“What did your dad do?” I hadn’t remembered ever hearing of a career for Mr Potter.
“He was an Unspeakable. He worked in the Department of Mysteries. You remember that brain thing that sucked on Ron?” I nodded that I did. The battle there was one of my worst nightmares. “My dad is the guy who worked with it.”
“Wow!” I was impressed. Everything down in that area scared me. I didn’t ever want to go back there.
“It’s amazing to read all about what they did, and how smart they were. My parents did important things. I wonder if they’d be happy with the choice I’m making?” I suddenly understood. Many people wondered about the choice Harry was making. Kingsley, Mum and Dad, even Professors McGonagall and Flitwick questioned why Harry wasn’t going to school with me, or doing an internship at the Ministry, so he’d be prepared when the Auror Academy opened next year. That had been his dream, but he wasn’t sure it was anymore. He’d done enough battling of Dark wizards for one lifetime. I understood his choice, but many thought he should be out there, helping rebuild the Wizarding world.
“Harry, I think your parents would have supported this decision,” I offered. “They were both part of the brewery when it started, and I think they’d be thrilled you’re part of their legacy. I also think they’d realize that, after all you’ve been through, you might want to just be a normal bloke for a while. Your mum and dad loved you so much, and they would have stood by you while you took some time for yourself.” Harry stood up and walked around the table and offered me a hand to help me stand. He then wrapped his arms around me and kissed me tenderly.
“You are the best thing in my life, Gin. Thank you for understanding me,” he whispered in my ear while he continued to hold me.
“Always, Harry,” I promised.
“Harry, are you sure?” Seph asked. “It’s a lot to learn in a rather short amount of time.” She looked at him a bit sceptically. I knew, however, that if Harry put his mind to something, he’d succeed.
“Seph, I’m sure. I want to be hands on. I want to really be involved in this place. Being the brewmaster would be the best way to do it. I know I can learn,” he pleaded. Seph stood up from the stool she was sitting on and paced back and forth across the tap room.
“You’re going to need to start following Walter, every day, all day. We need to get this place on line by mid-September if we’re going to have our full compliment available for Oktoberfest. Thankfully, three of the beers are based off things we brew at MMB 1. We won’t need the LLL, so we only have to brew two here. If you do this, it’s going to be ten- to twelve- or more hour days until we’re up and running. Are you sure this is what you want?”
I knew she was attempting to discourage him, but I could see in Harry’s eyes it wasn’t working. This was something he very much wanted. I thought it was a good idea as well, since it would fill up his time and he wouldn’t miss me as much. He’d considered coming with me, but in the end, he just couldn’t imagine sitting for another year of schooling.
“What else would I be doing?” he asked with a bemused face. “I could stroll through the Ministry and let them take pictures of me and make it seem like I was ‘on board’ with the rebuilding. No thanks. Kingsley is doing a good job, and I do support him, but I’m not going to be a poster boy for anything.” The hardness of his tone, and the slight sneer on his face were evidence of how deeply the wounds of his reputation being smeared by the Ministry truly were. Seph studied him for a minute before deciding not to go forward with this line of questioning.
“I understand you take after your father on a broom,” Seph said and Harry nodded his head without making eye contact. “You don’t want a pro Quidditch career?”
“Maybe someday, but not yet. Again, I’d be photographed and hounded. I’d much rather have a quiet life for a while.”
“Well, let me ask you a few questions, then. I know you didn’t sit your NEWT’s, but what did you get on your OWL for Potions?” Seph inquired.
“I got an ‘E’. I probably would have done better if I’d had Professor Slughorn for all my years. I made assumptions about Professor Snape and he made assumptions about me and we really didn’t get along. It affected my ability to learn in that class,” Harry conceded.
“Yes, well, I remember Severus from school. He was difficult even then. My sister, Petronella was in Slytherin house and the stories she told me about him were sad, yet disturbing. By the time we left school, there was an all-out hatred between your dad, Sirius and Severus,” she explained.
“I know,” Harry replied, “I’ve seen quite a few of his memories. I don’t suppose his devotion to my mum helped matters.”
“No, it didn’t. No bloke wants another having amorous thoughts about his fiancée,” she added sadly. “Okay, you’ve provided the potions qualifications. You’re obviously smart and think well on your feet, given what you did with Voldemort. Harry, I’m willing to give this a go, but in three months, we’re going to sit down and re-evaluate the situation. If it isn’t working, we’ll move in a different direction then. Is that all right with you?”
“Sure, thanks so much, Seph,” Harry excitedly answered while he shook her hand. He then hugged me tightly.
“Well, then, we need to get to work,” Seph said. “Come over behind the bar. I’m going to teach both of you how to pour the perfect pint.” We followed her around to the back of the bar. “I had Walter come over and set up some of the Muggle brews here, just for practice. These are correctly tapped, and I’ve got the air out of the lines already. I’ll teach you both how to do that another day. I didn’t want to waste time with it today.
“Okay, we’ve got the MMB, Moonlit Memories, Padfoot’s Pride, Stag’s Surprise, and the last of the Summer Golden Wheat IPA, Lightening Lily,” she explained as she pointed to each of the colourful taps. “I’ve also got bottles of the Lover’s Libation, which is the only way we sell it, and a few bottles of Memories Mélange which I did a quick run of at MMB 1 a few weeks ago, to tinker with the recipe,” she explained and pointed at a glass-fronted refrigerator on the far wall, still behind the bar.
“Harry, there are several kinds of glasses up on the shelf there. I want you to select a glass, select a beer and pour,” she directed.
He selected a tall, trumpet-shaped glass from the shelf and put it under the tap for Lightening Lily and pulled the lever. The glass was quickly filled, but it was mostly foam, which then bubbled over the top and down the sides. Seph’s face showed nothing, but I somehow doubted Harry had done it correctly.
“Okay, Ginny, your turn,” Seph said, not commenting on what Harry had done right or wrong. I looked at the glasses and chose a large mug with a sturdy handle. I put it under the lever for Moonlit Memories, and began to pour. Unlike Harry, however, I started and stopped often, letting the foam settle before adding more. I set it down on the bar just like Harry had done.
“Not bad, either of you, but not quite right either. Harry, the glass you chose is a Pilsner glass, and we only have one beer which is served in such a glass. It’s the autumn seasonal, Eliza’s Enlightenment, since it’s a lager. The glass is tall and tapered so you get long chains of bubbles as well as a good head. A good-sized head is about one- to one- and-a-half inches. How big do you think yours is?”
Harry looked at it and sighed, “About three?”
“I agree. I’ll show you how to fix that in a minute. Ginny, you chose well with your glass, just about all of our beers can be poured into a mug or stein, however, Moonlit Memories is generally served in a pint glass. We carry Imperial Pints, which just means they hold twenty ounces. See how it swells a little there at the top? It’s good for catching the foam. Your pouring technique was interesting, you knew there was too much head on Harry’s, didn’t you?”
“I wasn’t sure, but I didn’t think people would want to pay for a drink, and then have most of it be foam.” Harry gently nudged me with his elbow into my stomach. “What?”
“Don’t make me look bad.”
“We’re learning, silly, we can make mistakes now,” I replied and Seph laughed.
“You’re right, Ginny. Patrons would not be happy if most of their pint was foam. The starting and stopping will reduce that, but it increases the likelihood of having line issues from air backing up into it. Then you get way too much foam and the line needs to be cleared out. While you both did okay, here’s the correct way to pour.” She took down a pint glass and then took the dishcloth she had attached to her apron and wiped along the edge.
“You always want to check the glass and make sure it’s clean. This cloth here, I only use to wipe the clean glasses before I pour. If a glass ever looks dirty or spotted or whatever, just put it back in the cleaning rack and we’ll wash it again,” she explained. “The rag to clean the counter is under here, in the red dishpan. If we have a large spill or something, just use your wand to clean it up. There are other cloths if someone spills on themselves or something like that. Magic sometimes only does so much.” We both nodded, watching how she cleaned the lip of the glass, as well as the outside.
“Next, you want to hold the glass at a forty-five degree angle to whatever the beer is coming out of, regardless of it being a tap or a bottle. For beginners, pour slowly; as you get better, you can speed it up so you create an even better head, but for right now, just go at it easy. The taps can go slow or fast, depending on how far forward you pull on the lever. You want to aim for going right down the middle of the side of the glass, like this,” she said as she began to let the Padfoot’s Pride slide down the glass.
“When it’s about half full, tip the glass upright,” which she demonstrated, “when you’re nearing the top, stop. That way, you leave enough room for foam to rise without it going over the sides.” She then took a long pull on her glass. “Love my job, beer all day, every day. As the old drinking song goes, ‘God bless Charlie Mops, the man who invented beer, beer, beer,’” she sang and we laughed while taking a drink of our own fine beverages.
Seph went over the glasses with us again, explaining which beers didn’t go in mugs or pint glasses. I was surprised there were a few which needed to be served in a brandy snifter, but she explained they were closer to wine than beers, so they were served in that style of glass. It had something to do with aromatics or the smell or whatever it was.
We poured several drinks from the bottles, and I found I really liked the Lover’s Libation, especially after Seph put a slight Warming Charm on it, making the honey and spices come out even more. “The heat brings out the flavours in it. Think of it more like a mulled wine rather than a beer.”
Thankfully, Seph had food for us to eat, or we would have all been rather drunk. She pulled out some tiny glasses, only holding a few ounces each, they had a bulge similar to the pint glasses. She then opened a large box, which in turn held some Muggle plastic containers of food.
“Okay, these are tasting glasses,” she explained about the small drinking glasses. “We will do beer and food tastings and sell something called a flight, which is four of these glasses, allowing patrons to sample several beers. Today, I’m going to explain pairings with you, so that hopefully one day we can open a kitchen here and serve food as well.”
“That’s really cool,” I said excitedly. “This is something I really wanted to learn.”
She explained that there weren’t hard and fast rules, but instead suggestions and her personal preferences. Much of what she was teaching us, she’d learned from going to gastropubs around London and Edinburgh as well as when she toured a series of microbreweries in the United States with Sirius shortly after he was freed from Azkaban but before Voldemort was restored.
She pulled out a long container which, when opened, revealed fish and chips, properly wrapped in newsprint and a Warming Charm on it to keep it the perfect temperature. “What beer would you choose?” We both shook our heads, not knowing what would work.
“Okay, for something greasy or vinegary, you want to choose an Ordinary Bitter. For us, that’s our MMB,” she explained as she poured, handed us the glasses and then magically divided the fish and chips and put some on the plates in front of each of us. “The biting taste and strong flavours of a bitter or even an IPA balance the flavours of the fish and chips well. We haven’t brewed an IPA or India Pale Ale in years, but I’m thinking of bringing it back next year. We’ll deal with new brews after we get MMB 2 up and running smoothly.”
We ate the food and drank the beer, and I could see what she was saying. The vinegar on the chips made the MMB more pleasurable for me as well, since it really wasn’t my favourite. The astringent nature of the beer was lost in the other flavours. Next Seph pulled out small containers of lamb stew.
“Now what do you think?” Neither Harry nor I spoke. “Remember, you’re pairing the beer, so something as heavy and gamey as lamb needs a beer that’s heavy and strong,” she explained.
“Stag’s Surprise?” I ventured a guess.
“Not quite, but you’re thinking along the correct lines.” She poured the Padfoot’s Pride and I could see how the strong porter worked with the lamb. Over and over ,Seph took out containers and then poured a beer for us. Smoked salmon for the heavy Scottish Ale of Stag’s Surprise.Pizza to go with the Lightening Lily, which was amazing together. The pizza was perfectly complimented by the crispness of the beer.
To my delight, several of the beers went with dessert items. The Memories Mélange was paired with grilled peaches and cream. Cheesecake, chocolate no less, was brought out for my favourite beer, Moonlit Memories. The most decadent, however, were the chocolate covered strawberries she had for the Lover’s Libation. I was very buzzed, if not drunk, by the time Harry began feeding me the strawberries. I thought that he might be as well. Seph sniggered at the two of us before she pulled a phial out from behind the bar, uncapped it and drank it down.
“What’s that?” I asked her.
“Silverman’s Sober-Up Potion,” Seph explained. “I need to go and do payroll at MMB 1. You two are done for the day; go get ready for France, Ginny. Are you kids okay to get yourself home, or do you need me to make you a Portkey?”
“I can get us home,” Harry said. “Do you mind if I take the rest of these berries and a couple bottles of the LL with us?”
Seph laughed. “Not at all, enjoy yourselves. Ginny, good luck in school, please write to me. Harry, eight o’clock on Wednesday at MMB 1 to start following Walter.”
“Sure, Seph,” Harry answered.
“Thanks, Seph,” I called to her, even as she was walking out of the tap room. A flick of her wand, and the dishes were clean and put away and the garbage was gone. All that remained on the counter was the four bottles of beer and a large bowl of the berries.
“Come on, Gin, I’ve got plans for you and these,” he said as he grabbed our snack.