Matt is picking me up at 11:15 for my 13:48 flight. Which gives me some time. The only restriction is getting to the breakfast room by 9:30.
Breakfast is scrambled egg, potatoes and a different type of dodgy sausage, something sliced up and swimming in its own grease. At least it's on a ceramic plate. And the coffee wakes me up a treat. I always go for the robust rather than the regular. I know how watery American coffee can be.
I fiddle around on the internet a little while waiting for Matt. Just as I'm about to close down my computer, I get an email from Delta: my flight has been delayed until 15:30. I quickly fire off an email to Bob Isburgh, who's picking me up in Cincinnati.
I have a good final chat with Matt as we trundle along the motorway to the airport. It's quite a hike from Brighton.
Goodbyes said, I find a machine and type in my PNR number. A couple of seconds later it spits out my boarding card.
There's quite a queue for security. Not a worry, seeing as I've three hours due to my flight's delay. Once through, I look at the directory to find the most suitable boozing location close to my gate. Oh look, there's a Gordon Biersch. That'll do nicely.
As I'm walking to the tram, I notice an electronics shop. I wonder if I can pick up a mouse there?
"Can I help you, sir?"
"Yes. Do you sell mice?"
"Yes, over here."
They've a variety, at prices of varying degrees of outrageousness. I plump for the cheapest, a snip at $19.99. It's worth it. Using the pad has been driving me totally crazy. How anyone can work with those things is beyond me.
I plonk myself at the bar and look at the taps. A Maibock looks my best bet.
"A Maibock, please."
"Would you like a menu, sir?"
"Yes, but I'll work up an appetite a little before ordering." With the flight delay, I’ve ages. No need to rush. Which is how I prefer things. I’d rather spend an hour longer at an airport bar than have to rush.
The Maibock is fizzy. Very fizzy. A good bit of swirling has little effect. So I swirl it some more. It's still fizzing like lemonade. Brill. It's not bad, but would be way better with a quarter of the carbonation.
I get bored of swirling a third in and order a double jack Daniels. No ice, obviously. I'm not a weirdo. Maybe the carbonation will calm down while I'm wrapping my chops around the whiskey.
A couple of gulps in and my appetite is picking up.
"Can I get a strip steak?"
"What do you want as a side?"
The slices of steak are covered in barbecue sauce. Which tastes almost exactly like HP sauce. That brings back memories. Especially on the chips. It's like being back in Wilfred Avenue, 1967.
No need to rush my food. I've plenty of time. I try to fire up my flip-flop to see if Bob, has emailed me. I connect to the wifi, but can't find the login screen on my browser. I'm a bit shit with this sort of modern computer shit. Discouraged, I give up and order another double Jack Daniels instead.
Where are my notes? I realise that I’ve left them back in the hotel. Bum. I even did a quick scan before leaving and didn’t spot them. That’s annoying. Just as well I’ve been typing some stuff in on my computer. Otherwise I’d be buggered.
I mosey over to the gate in plenty of time. Just in case. You never know with delayed flights. Just for the hell of it, I give the flip-flop another whirl. This time, I stumble across the right window and get myself logged in. Nothing from Bob, so I email Dolores to let her know I'm not staring up from a gutter or face down in a river.
The incoming flight arrives. And there's an announcement saying that the turnaround will be quick be as the plane is empty. Mmm . . .
The flight is short and uneventful. I just hope Bob is there.
I've only hand luggage and am swiftly through to landside. White beard is what Bob said I should look for. Sure enough there's a man with a white beard holding a piece of paper with my name on it.
He’s studying brewing science in the evenings. It’s an event put on by his class that we’re going to later: Flight Night. The students have brewed up a variety of beers on the university’s pilot system. They’re being paired with food prepared by culinary students.
After quickly checking in and dropping off my bags, Bob whisks me off to the university. We pass the Sam Adams plant, which looks massive. It’s the former Schoenling Brewery, the last of the city’s older breweries.
There’s quite a crowd, students and guests. Bob introduces me to some of his fellow students. One, James Czar will be accompanying us tomorrow as designated driver.
There’s also a brewer from a nearby Miller Coors plant. And Dan Listermann, who’s quite a character. He’s run a local homebrew shop for years and has more recently expanded to include a brewery and tap room. Dan is a real Germanophile and we discuss our favourite spots in Bavaria.
The beers are mostly pretty good. I like the Quad so much that I have a second. The food is excellent. Pigs in blankets using handmade sausages. Flatbread with ham they cured themselves.
On the way out, we take a look at the little brewing system. It’s a half-barrel, three-vessel kit, made from chopped up kegs. A typical homebrewing setup. It’s housed in what was once a kitchen for the culinary students.
When James drops me off at my hotel he says: “I have to get back to my family, but if you fancy another beer there’s a Rock Bottom just over the way.” I need little encouragement to indulge in more beer.
I roll myself up to the bar, plonk my bum on a barstool and order a beer. This is fun. Rock Bottom might be a chain, but their beers are usually passable. And they have handy downtown locations. I’ve drunk in several of them.
A diminutive woman of around thirty is running the bar all on her own. Pulling drinks for the waitresses as well as serving those seated at the bar. I’m impressed. She’s working non-stop, but seems to be on top of it.
Do I feel like eating? A little, maybe. But everything on the menu is too big or not what I feel like. I give it a miss.
When last call is called at eleven, I trail back to my hotel. I get myself a bag of crisps on my way in. That should keep me going until morning.
My head hits the pillow before midnight, my mind emptying when I’ve barely laid down. Sleep creeps stealthily in from the bathroom while I’m distracted.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Detroit, MI 48242.
Tel: +1 734-941-0592
10 Fountain Square Plaza,
Cincinnati, OH 45202.
Tel: +1 513-621-1588
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