du Tertre, the River, chapter
1615, a certain William bought a house in the center of Meryton,
where he started to brew beer. They brewed the beer in the same
house for more than two centuries till a new factory, just outside
the canals encircling Meryton, was opened in 1876. William’s
daughter, Janechen, married Peter Kuipson, a descendant from a
family of keg makers … as you can see by his name, as ‘Kuip’
is the ancient name for keg. It appeared he was more interested in
the content than making the container. In 1676, Peter was appointed
Guild Master of all the brewers in Meryton. We still have this
original document and are very proud we’ve been able to save it
all those centuries.” Jane and Charles stood in the middle of the
huge vault, looking at a document, carefully sealed in a plastic
cover, signed by the Guild Master himself.
Phillips had appointed Jane as Charles’s assistant and one of her
tasks was to show him around and tell him as much as she could about
the history of the brewery. On Charles’s first day, she had handed
him some nicely illustrated books about Merytayns, but he
stated he preferred to see everything instead reading about it.
“How much time do you have?” she’d asked, her eyes twinkling
with joy, eager to tell the story, showing the pride she felt for
the company that had belonged to her family for centuries. “As
much as you think we need,” Charles answered, and Jane, who
already had access to his digital agenda, reserved some time on
Tuesday, she showed him the vault – not that the room itself was
very special, but the contents were certainly worth a close
examination. Carefully, Jane opened drawer after drawer showing
Charles documents and original cashbooks. At the back of the vault,
a folding table with a chair was attached to the wall. With great
attention, Jane gently laid down a thick register. Charles politely
drew back the chair, allowing Jane to sit while she browsed the
stiff pages. He leaned over her, his hand resting on the back of the
chair, unconsciously inhaling, next to the stale air of the rarely
opened vault, the delicate scent of both her hair and perfume. A
simple bulb emphasized the impersonal, almost clinical atmosphere,
producing a profuse amount of white light. It seemed his thumb
wanted to fight the cold ambiance on its own, abandoning the other
fingers, slipping slowly over the edge to touch Jane’s back.
Jane, ignoring the sudden, temperature rise caused by his unexpected
touch, found the page she wanted. “Here it is. Peter Kuipson died
in 1684 and his son Herman succeeded him. In 1734, his son Gerard
inherited the brewery. Gerard was the leading party in an agreement
about the wage brewing. Look, here is the original contract,” she
said, pointing to the top where Charles saw some figures. “Wage
brewing was merely done at the expense of farmers, who ordered the
factory to brew beer out of their own cultivated barley. Competition
was fierce and the brewers considered it necessary to fix a price of
0,75 Dutch Florins for approximately 500 liters,” Jane added. She
turned another page and told Charles about the capital expenditures
in wortboilers (note:1), which
increased the brewing capacity.
something else….” Suddenly, Jane, intending to get another book,
pushed the chair back. Her abrupt movement caused her to bump
against Charles, lifting the chair a little, its leg coming down on
his foot. “Oh, sorry.” Quickly she removed the chair, almost
dropping the heavy book. Simultaneously trying to catch it, their
arms shot out touching each other again. “Got it,” Jane said,
hoping her voice sounded as light and casual as she wanted it to be.
Inhaling deeply, she carefully turned and put the book back in the
iron closet. She opened another drawer and chose a huge
his hands behind his back to avoid touching any other off-limits
territory, Charles watched as Jane searched for something she
clearly wanted him to see.
In 1812, a certain Peter Harpers owned the factory. The change of
name was due to a Kuipson who only had daughters somewhere in the
century before. Peter was in the same position, having two daughters
and no sons at all. His eldest daughter, Marianne married Gerard
Bennet who inherited Merytayns. It was the first time the
name Bennet was connected with the brewery.” Jane showed Charles
the document proving the transfer of ownership to Mr. G.P.B. Bennet.
you a lineal descendant of Gerard Bennet?” Charles asked. Jane
nodded and Charles’s gaze shifted from her face to the closet with
the well-kept ledgers and books. “Then, this is not only the
brewery’s history but your personal background as well,” he
softly added. “Almost two centuries the name Bennet linked to one
factory. It’s amazing.”
can say that again.” Jane fingered the paper softly. “However,
nowadays only the name is attached.”
father used to manage as well?”
he did, but not anymore. He still owns quite a bit of stock,
though.” Jane closed the book, and while Charles held the closet
door, she put it away, debating what she could tell him and what
should remain private. Although Jane had a strong feeling Charles
was trustworthy, she realized she could not enlighten him on
everything, partly because she didn’t know all the details
behind why her father and his brother-in-law, Mr. Phillips, had a
huge disagreement. It had been a large enough argument for her
father to step back and part with daily management. She assumed it
to be – as she believed it is often the case with disagreements
– one big misunderstanding. The other reason she was reticent to
tell this part of Merytayns’s history was the way her
mother had raised her: never wash one's dirty linen in public.
Apparently, her father had signed an agreement with his
brother-in-law. He retained his stock, but could sell them only to a
member of the family. They didn’t bring in much annual income and
since Mr. Bennet, by stepping back, also lost his wages as general
manager, the family had little money to spend. Every Euro Mr. Bennet
earned from teaching business economics at a trade school was needed
to maintain the family property and the family pride. The property
consisted of a few hectares of land complete with a very nice house. The pride mostly residing in Mrs. Bennet, who refused to believe
she had lost the position of the wife of an important businessman, a
woman who needed to see and be seen everywhere.
Phillips is also a relative, right? What about his brother?”
Charles remembered he was introduced to two Phillipses the Friday
before and, having seen the other name on some documents as well, he
was curious to know more about the family.
yes. Well that’s another part of Merytayns’s history,”
Jane answered. “I assume you know by now we also have another
factory in Breevoort. We produce the export beer over there.”
I’ve seen something about it in your annual report.” Charles
rested comfortably against the wall, blocking the exit and showing
every intention of taking his time. For a reason Jane pretended not
to acknowledge; she didn’t want to look in his bright, turquoise
eyes and looked for something with which to occupy herself. She
remembered a box of original photographs and turned to open another
closet to fetch it.
the end of the 19th century, some gentlemen came to Merytayns
with a business proposition,” she said, opening the box and
picking a brown-colored photo that showed a number of people in
front of a factory. “They asked if the Bennet family wanted to
invest money in their brewery called Klock. Those gentlemen
where Theo and Marcus Phillips. They were in huge financial trouble
and in search of an investor. After long negotiations Merytayns
spent money, but not as a loan. The Bennets bought the entire
factory offering the Phillips brothers jobs as managers. The two
families remained close.” Jane took another picture and pointed at
two heavy gentleman wearing expensive suits, smoking fat cigars,
standing a little in front of the other employees. Charles came
close to take a good look, taking advantage of the opportunity to
inhale her scent again.
closeness of the two families reached its peak about 25 years ago,
when my mother’s sister married Mr. George Phillips, who manages
the Breevoort part of Merytayns and my father’s sister
married Mr. Mark Phillips, who is my boss, as you know.” Jane
stored the photograph and while her face showed no change of
emotion, her voice revealed more by dropping down in volume and
clarity when she said, “Perhaps it was the closeness of all the
in-laws that made my father decide to leave the factory.”
spoke so softly that Charles almost couldn’t hear her.
Automatically, he bent forward, causing him to touch her.
“Sorry,” he said, leaving to Jane to decide whether he was sorry
for her father, or for his touch. Feeling he had spent enough time
with a beautiful woman in a small space, he cheerfully added, “I
think I’ve had enough history for now. Let’s return to today.
Would you please show me where the famous beer is made?”
course,” Jane said and after making sure everything she had
touched was returned to the right place, she closed the vault
carefully and asked Charles to follow her to the malt house.
* ~ * ~
next day Jane showed Charles the other Merytayns factory in
Breevoort where the export beer was brewed. During the 45-minute
drive she told him about the color of the bottles. Merytayns
destined for the European market was bottled in brown bottles,
because dark glass best protects beer’s taste from the damaging
effects of light. However, for some reason, when Merytayns
started exporting, beer in brown bottles sold poorly overseas and
therefore export-beer was bottled in green glass. There were both
brown and green flip-top and crown cap bottles and both factories
produced those two bottle lines.
the ride, Jane pointed at a huge lake. “Look. They’re already
working on the obstacles for the Military next week.”
yes I know. Caroline will be going,” Charles answered. They were
referring to the ‘Boekelo Military’, a famous horse event,
scheduled for the next week. An international three-day event
competition, the Military comprised three phases: dressage, speed
and endurance, and show jumping on three consecutive days. It was a
three-star event; only advanced horses and riders of international
level would compete.
you mean Caroline will ride?” Jane asked surprised.
no,” Charles said smiling. “She goes to many of those events to
meet other horse breeders. I’m not sure which day she’ll go,
probably Sunday for the show jumping. That’s the best day to meet
always go on Saturday,” Jane said.
Charles asked, trying to find out whether the other half of we
was male or not.
Elizabeth and I,” Jane answered. “Merytayns is one of the
main sponsors, so we have plenty of tickets. Our Event Team will be
there, of course, and as we’re not only selling beer and supplying
the bars, but sponsoring as well. Our Promotion Team will be
present.” She explained to Charles that the Event Team consisted
of employees whose full-time job was to build temporary bars and cafés
at events such as huge sports championships, outdoor gatherings and
parties held in places where no built-in bars were available. They
had to take care of the equipment, quality and quantity of the beer
and other beer-related necessities like carbon cylinders, towels,
beer mats, skimmers, etc. Normally the organizer of the event took
care of the staff and the rest of the catering. Merytayns
sponsored events like this one in Boekelo, with money and by placing
beer stalls for free, as well as tables, chairs, stools, ashtrays,
and Merytayns logo-embroidered clothes and aprons, everywhere
on the grounds. This worked both ways, of course, because the more
stalls, the more beer sold. Merytayns was also clearly
visible, increasing its product recognition.
Phillips gave me tickets for the VIP lounge on both Saturday and
Sunday. You know, in order to meet business relations, make new
acquaintances and so on. I’ve been told the view from the show
jump track is marvelous. Would you care to join me?” Charles tried
to phrase the question as casually as he could. Although their
acquaintance had been of short duration, he was convinced that his
first appearance in public as representative of Merytayns
would pass much more agreeably if Jane was around. He was not so
certain of her answer and to his own surprise he dreaded it, feared
hearing her say “No, thank you.” Not immediately receiving the
relief he wanted, reading the struggle of doubt on her face, he
tried to focus on the road.
looked outside. They had already passed the surroundings where the
event would take place, but her mind was still situated between the
huge wooden obstacles where horse power would dominate next week. He
wanted her to join him in the VIP lounge. Why? His sister was going,
why wouldn’t she join him? They lived the same house so Jane
assumed that they were very close, otherwise why share a house at
their age. It wasn’t as if they had to double up their first
independent living arrangements in order to save money. On the other
hand, perhaps they did -- what did she know about his sister or
about him, for that matter? She was going to share her next
apartment with her sister, but only because they loved each other
dearly. Jane felt that not only were they sisters but very close
friends as well, and she assumed Elizabeth felt the same. Actually,
she not only assumed but was also very certain about it. Smilingly,
she had to think about her sisters. Okay, I imagine I could
manage Mary or Kitty sharing my house, and perhaps even with Lydia
-- not all of them together, of course. How did father and mother
endure all five of us? I could, but Lizzy would certainly go mad
every single day under the same roof as Lydia without a calming
father near. She couldn’t imagine how it would be for a sister
and a brother, not having those male relations herself.
soft cough coming from the direction of her companion as he tried to
pay attention to the road brought her back to the question at hand.
Apparently, his sister wouldn’t be joining him and he asked her
instead. She reasoned it was best to politely decline the offer. He
was her colleague and she should maintain some distance. Even if she
was to treat him indifferently, others might assume there was more
than ... well, than there was. Instinctively, she knew accompanying
him was actually what she most wanted. Not a person to pander to all
of her own whims, not sure that she could compare this feeling to a
passing fancy, she tried finding clear motives to justify an
affirmative answer. The view was indeed superb from his suggested
vantage point – she would certainly be able to closely follow the
complete show jumping competition on Sunday.
The VIP lounge was warm, comfortable, dry and the seats were
cushy, food and drinks were free and she loved hot chocolate,
especially after a long walk across the endurance track. At least
that was what she remembered, not having been inside the VIP lounge
herself other than as a bartender when she was younger, making some
money for the holidays. She recalled several businessmen hanging out
at her bar the whole afternoon, while the women tried to follow the
competition. Again she found herself wondering why Charles Bingley
wanted to have her along.
She heard him saying. A tiny word, containing as many questioning
feelings as four characters could possibly hold and Jane recognized
sorry … that I didn’t answer immediately,” she quickly said.
“It’s just … you surprised me. Why would someone like you ask
me to accompany you? I assume it’s your job to attend those
gatherings and that you’re used to it.”
spontaneously and impulsively, as was typical for him, Charles
answered, “Yes, I go often to those assemblies and I’ve
discovered I’m much more at ease with a beautiful and very nice
lady next to me.”
more cynical mind than Jane’s could ever become, would interpret
this remark to mean that he was accustomed to always taking
beautiful women wherever he was going and that Jane would merely be
the next number in a very long line. However, the object of his
current desire could only hear the huge compliment formulated in his
clarification; he found her beautiful and needed her in order to be
at ease in company. Repeating his words inaudibly, her cheeks slowly
colored a nice shade of red. “Well …. err …. you’re
flattering me.” She heard herself stammering.
mean it. I would like it very much if you could come. To be honest,
I don’t go to this kind of horse event very often and I’m sure
you can tell me a lot about this one, since Merytayns has
sponsored it for many years,” Charles explained.
he meant every word he said Jane truly wanted to say yes --but she
couldn’t. “I’d love to, but I have to ask my sister first. We
always go together on Saturday and I won’t pass over her.”
her loyalty, but not able to hide his disappointment completely,
Charles’s hastily said “I understand” was quickly followed by,
“Sunday is a deal then?”
could not help but laugh softly at his persistence. “Deal,” she
smilingly said as they reached the part of Breevoort where Merytayns
second factory was situated.
took his time and visited the Breevoort factory thoroughly. They
examined all the production departments as well as every office.
Since Jane had no other business, she followed him wherever he went.
After a lively conversation with Mr. Phillips about, among other
things, the way the Breevoort factory was managed, they returned to
Meryton. Jane saw she was too late to make it home for her
family’s dinner and Charles was happy to have an excuse to ask her
to dine with him. They had a pleasant time discussing every subject
that could possibly come up during a last-minute dinner date with
two easy-going people.
* ~ * ~
Thursday afternoon, Jane showed Charles around the PR Department.
She told him about Merytayns’s advertisement strategies,
including the advertising campaign called “Craftsmanship is
Mastership” which had run 30 years in a row, making
Merytayns’s famous nationally and internationally.
afternoon Jane confided in Charles the huge secret: Merytayns
would be launching a new strategy in the coming year. Four new
flavors of beer where being developed – one for each season. The
first one would be on the market not this winter, but the one after.
It would be a very strong and dark beer for the cold winter
days and nights. Many people were working on this project to ensure
it was a perfect operation in which every piece would fall in its
place. Not only was the taste of the new brew still under
construction, so was the promotion concept. Elizabeth was an
important link in the secret, being that she was the designer of the
four main themes for the respective beers. Her paintings would form
the foundation for every single promotional article representing
each beer. Jane decided it would be okay to show Charles the
paintings; and she had another reason to visit her sister. She knew
Elizabeth had been informed about the concept’s delay today.
Originally the seasonal beers were to have been launched in the
coming year. A few weeks ago it became apparent that the deadline
was unreachable and management was advised to wait at least half a
year. This Friday after a long meeting the final decision fell: an
entire year’s delay.
was working in the back room when Jane and Charles entered the
studio. Jack, having no doubt Jane would only show the paintings to
trustworthy people, nodded his head in the direction where they
could find his employee. Charles, never having been introduced
properly to Jack before, shook hands and immediately engaged him in
a lively conversation. Despite having joined Charles in several
meetings over the preceding week, and witnessing him in action, Jane
found herself again pleasantly surprised by his frankness and
admired his ease.
sister’s attention was caught by an unknown male voice as she
entered the front office. Her eyes instantly conveyed that
she did not share Jack’s confidence in her sister’s
judgment. Jane understood Elizabeth and felt compelled to explain
“Hey Lizzy, Charles would like to see your paintings and since he
signed the pledge of company confidentiality, I figured it would be
answered with a shrug. She didn’t like to show unfinished works
but wouldn’t admit it, seeing both Jane’s and Charles’s
expectant faces. “I was just working on one. Come,” she said and
turned to go ahead.
guess you had a phone call today?” Jane asked cautiously.
PR called me. An entire year delay,” Elizabeth said as she held
the door giving Jane and Charles the opportunity to enter.
roll-out you mean?” Charles asked. “I heard about the
postponement this morning. Do you know what the reason for it is?”
He directed the last question to Jane.
Jane told you about Merytayns’s most important
ingredient?” Elizabeth answered in her sister’s stead,
and seeing Charles questioning expression she added, “Merytayns,
which is actually lager, is brewed according to the 'Reinheitsgebot',
the German Purity Law, using no other ingredients than malted
barley, hops and water. Here in Meryton we add another vital
ingredient – time.”
knew the facts by heart, not only because she had often joined the
conducted tours Merytayns organized several times a year for
tourists, but also because she had, just like her sister, the same
pride in her family’s heritage as brewers. Merytayns was
not only beer, it was the effort generation after generation of
Bennet descendants had put in their factory.
right,” Jane added. “Merytayns needs time to develop.
Quality has been top priority for ages and is still a crucial part
of every important business decision.”
you think quality is the reason for the postponement?” Elizabeth
asked her sister.
guess Uncle Mark needs to be sure everything is perfect before he
dares to try something new,” Jane said.
not sure if I like this,” Elizabeth replied. “I prefer to work
towards a close deadline; I need the pressure. Now, I have more time
but I’m not sure that’s best for my paintings. At some point I
simply must stop altering and adding.”
year is quite a long time.” Charles went towards the four easels.
“Darcy would love these.” Slowly he walked from one easel to
another taking a good look at every season Elizabeth had started to
paint. “You work on all four of them simultaneously?”
and no. It depends on my mood. Sometimes I work days in a row on one
painting and sometimes when I’ve prepared a nice color I use it on
two, three or all four. I think it’s better to work simultaneously
because they belong together. Since they are
a set they mustn’t vary too much,” Elizabeth explained.
similar to the painting William bought in Paris,” Charles said.
“The style that is.”
asked, “Does he still have the painting? It was wet when he bought
it. I hope he managed to get it home intact.”
didn’t get an answer immediately as Charles felt his cell phone
vibrating in his pants. “Well, that’s timing. You can ask
William himself,” he said, looking at the little screen. “Hi,
William. Yes. Where are you? In Meryton? Oh, right, I forgot -- you
had that meeting up north today. Of course you’re gonna stay. No,
Caroline hasn’t arrived yet. By the way, I have something you must
see. I’m sure you’ll like this….” Ignoring, or perhaps not
at all noticing the alarm in both Jane’s and Elizabeth’s eyes,
he explained to his friend how to drive to the studio. After he hung
up, Jane expressed their worries.
However, he convinced them that they needn’t be concerned
about William Darcy. He understood the paintings, the whole project
in fact, were strictly confidential. He resolutely defended his
friend’s honor: “If anyone is able to keep a secret, it’s
William. Besides, he’s working closely with me on this assignment,
so he knows this is not something to be made public.”
were interrupted when Jack entered the room. “Elizabeth, there’s
someone here to see you,” he said. Although he was surprised, when
he learned that Mr. Darcy had come to see the paintings, he steered
said gentleman directly to the backroom. Jack’s demeanor carefully
hid the surprise and any concern he might have in the sudden
interest in an order Merytayns placed months ago, especially
today, after the announced postponement.
didn’t say much and tried to stay in the background after William
entered the room. She was surprised to realize that she was curious
to know what he might say about them. For some inexplicable reason
his opinion mattered to her. Trying to read his face she didn’t
pay attention to Charles, who was explaining the purpose of the
paintings and therefore she missed the information shared between
the two men. Upon hearing of the postponement, William shot his
friend a meaningful look, signaling wordlessly that he considered
money to be the real reason – a lack of money.
missed the silent interchange between William and Charles, it was
with relief that Elizabeth observed his expression when he examined
her work on the easels. It developed from aloof indifference to a
subtle joy. His mouth turned into a smile, very small, but a smile
all the same, and his eyes shone with a certain glow as his glance
shifted from one season to another, ending his perusal on
Elizabeth’s face. As she finally put the brushes she had been
holding since Jane and Charles came in down on a nearby work bench,
she saw him move his hand to his neck, where he apparently had to
scratch an itchy spot. No words were exchanged but they weren’t
necessary; he liked them and she knew it.
an open book can be dangerous. The same words he used almost a
week ago crept into her consciousness all at once as she read the
emotions beaming off his countenance right into hers. Dangerous…
After examining her creations herself, she turned back to him. I
didn’t know I had this kind of power.
moment appeared to be as short as it was intense. William suddenly
turned and his face became indifferent again when Charles declared,
“Hey, it’s almost dinner time. What shall we do? Would you
ladies care to join us? It would be our pleasure to dine with the
two of you.” Jane declined, explaining that this was to be their
last evening at home; they would be moving out the next morning.
They knew their mother would like them to eat at home. Disappointed,
but ever cheerful, Charles suggested that he and Jane return to the
factory where she had left her bike and agreed with William to meet
him in half an hour at the restaurant on the marketplace. After this
plan was accepted by all, Elizabeth said her good-byes and fixed her
attention on the paintings again, not thinking it necessary to
escort them to the front door. Much to her surprise she saw William
didn’t leave immediately. He kept looking at Spring.
is that?” he asked in a polite tone, pointing to some green spots.
you can see, it’s a clear mountain stream, the purity of the water
emphasizing the natural ingredients used to brew Merytayns,”
Elizabeth calmly explained. “What you’re pointing at are two
leaves. They happened to have fallen into the water.”
see.” William looked at Elizabeth briefly, said goodbye and left
the studio. The scent of paint, thinner, ink and other painter’s
equipment lingered in his nostrils, the image of Spring 'burned'
on his eyeballs and he wondered if she, while working, saw the same
thing that he did when he gazed at the painting. Did she also see
two green leaves, originating from different trees but falling into
the same stream? Powerless … unable to do anything but follow the
strong flow of the water, turning around each other in irregular
circles, pushed and pulled toward and from each other by romping
water droplets, barely touching and quickly parting afterwards…
Unable to return to the branch they left, but only able to follow
the path the water would allow. Traveling together, not because they
chose to do so, but because they were placed there by ... by what?
What caused two such different leaves to flow simultaneously on the
water -- wind, storm, rain, drought? Just circumstances? Or could it
be called fate?
* ~ * ~
Wort Boiler Wort is clear liquid. It’s heated and filtered
Malt. Wort goes into a huge boiler (the Wort Boiler) and hops are
added. These hops work as a natural preservative. The liquid is
boiled intensively and then quickly cooled to a temperature of 6
degrees C. after which the excess proteins are removed naturally.
The filtered brew is now ready for the next phase, the fermentation.
(I’ll tell another time, or chapter, about fermentation) (click
here to go back to text)