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About Us

Welcome to the Brookston family blog. We'll post updates here on what's going on in our part of the world, and especially with our son, Porter, who has been diagnosed with some form of autism. Our hope is that this blog will help us deal with all the issues we'll be facing and keep our friends and family informed as well.

Jay B.


Sarah J.


Porter Brookston
born September 10, 2001


Alice Brookston
born July 7, 2004

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January 26, 2007

Chunneling to Brussels

Categories: Photos, J, Friends, Beer, Trips — J @ 8:34 pm

On Friday, we left England and took the Chunnel train under the English Channel to Brussels for a quick day trip.

The Eurostar train in Brussels.

Where you can get a Duvel to enjoy on board.

Downtown Brussels near the Midi train station.

Where even their beer trash is better.

That’s a discarded bottle of Westmalle Tripel.

First stop was a tour of Brasserie Cantillon, the last remaining brewery in Brussels.

For the full brewery tour, see the next post.

Cantillon owner Jean-Pierre Van Roy and me after our tour.

After our tour, we did some quick sightseeing. This, of course, is the famous Manneken-Pis.

Across the street from which was the Poechenellekelder, a bit touristy but with a decent beer selection.

The nearby Grand Place.

Including the Brewers Union building.

And, of course, the Delirium Cafe, also packed with tourists.

With a spiral staircase lined with Delirium Tremens bottles.

The Floris Absinthe bar across the alley was closed until eight, by the Delirium Cafe had one type of absinthe so I could try some with my beer.

Afterwards, we had a quick dinner at Bier Circus. Here Shaun shows off his steak and the ubiquitous plate of frittes.

And our beer selection with dinner.

Back at the train station to return to London there was an interesting selection of canned beer in the vending machines. All in all, the trip was too quick to do anything but scratch the surface of the city, but at least we had a chance to do that. I’m certainly looking forward to returning and spending a little more time there.

• • •

January 25, 2007

Dinner with the Gibbons Family

Categories: Photos, Friends, Trips, Food — J @ 5:09 pm

On Thursday after the tour of Fuller’s Brewery, I left the group and headed out to Lewisham, near Greenwich, to have dinner with my friends Keith, Alex and the girls. It had been a few years since I lst saw them and I was looking very forward to getting together with them at their home.

Casa Gibbons in Lewisham, London.

Alex, Ailsa and Tabitha.

Keith cooked us a yummy carribean dish with plantains.

The Gibbons family on the sofa. This is what happens if you tell everyone to say “broccoli.”

Whereas, “cheese” gets you a different response.

• • •

Fuller’s Brewery Tour

Categories: Photos, Friends, Beer, Trips — J @ 12:56 pm

On Thursday we had a private tour of Fuller’s Brewery in London, England.

The Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, London

The Fuller’s pub attached to the grewery is known as the Fox & Hounds on one side.

And the Mawson Arms on the other.

Our group: Tour guide Derek Prentice, Chris, Shaun, Thomas, Motor and Christian.

Our tour began in the Hock Cellar.

Then preceded back toward the brewery proper.

The Fuller’s smokestack.

The tour began with the old part of the brewery, such as this view of the old malthouse.

And other now unused parts of the brewery have been left intact and incoroporated into the tour.

Such as the “Old Copper,” which hasn’t been used since 1984.

Inside the “Old Copper.”

The “Old Mash Tun,” similarly unused since 1993.

A better view of the “Old Mash Tun.”

Then it was on to the more modern portion of the brewery.

Our tour guide, Derek Prentice was, until quite recently, at Young’s Ram Brewery. He’s now in charge of production brewery for the next year at Fullers.

Since the early 1990s, the brewery has been fully modernized.

Though remanants of the old ways still remain, such as this old square fermenter.

And old wooden casks that line hallways and open floor space.

Though the majority of draught beer is packaged in modern kegs.

Which are also filled in a modern facility.

At the exit, a large sign spays homage to Fuller’s most popular beer, their ESB.

Outside, beer is stack on the docks waiting for delivery to pubs and retail stores.

For us, it was back to the Hock Cellar where this animated sign shows the brewing process at the Griffin.

Inside the Hock Cellar, the walls were lined cases filled with breweriana from throughout Fuller’s history.

Of course, there was a bar where we sampled beer made at the brewery. Here brewers Shaun O’Sullivan from 21st Amendment Brewery and Christian Kazakoff from Triple Rock Brewery pose behind the bar with our tour guide Derek Prentice.

• • •

January 24, 2007

London in January

Categories: Photos, J, Friends, Beer, Trips — J @ 8:53 pm

I had a chance to take advantage of cheap fares and Tuesday I left for a short trip to London along with brewers Shaun O’Sullivan (21st Amendment) and Christian Kazakoff (Triple Rock) and beer fans Motor and Thomas. Because of the time change, our flight was effectively a red eye and we arrived in the U.K. the following morning around seven in the morning. We had no specific plans for the day, apart from some drinking and trying to stay awake as long as possible in order to fight our jet lag.

London had received a rare bit of snow and our tube ride in from the airport was a winter wonderland.

The snow was so unexpected, there were still flowers in the parks.

Christian, Shaun, me and Motor in the lobby of our hotel in Russell Square.

We went for a walk down to the Borough Market and tried a brewpib there, the Brew Wharf Yard. They only had one house beer on, the Wharf Rebel, which was, I’m sorry to say, very dissapointing. But they did have all of the Meantime beers and a good selection of imported Belgian and American beers.

The Anchor pub next to the Thames was a bit of a tourist bar but in a great location and with a decent selection.

By far the best pub in the area was the Market Porter, which had great atmosphere and an even better beer selection.

Though ridicuously the Market Porter also carried Guinness Extra Cold, whatever that means. Actually, according to the Guinness website:

Using the same classic recipe as Guinness Draught, Guinness Draught Extra Cold passes through our Coldflow supercooler en route to the bar. The result is a GUINNESS® Draught that’s served 3°C cooler. With an initial malt and caramel flavour, cooler Guinness Draught Extra Cold finishes with less bitterness than classic Guinness Draught beer. Chilly, isn’t it?

Guinness Draught Extra Cold is best served at around 3.5°C (38.3°F) — that’s 2.5°C (4.5°F) or so colder than Guinness Draught.

We did our own taste test of Guinness vs. Guinness Extra Cold — GEC is in the foreground. Not surprisingly, there was absolutely no difference. As suspected, it was merely a marketing gimmick.

Next, it was off to the Tate Modern, which was only a short walk away.

The highlight was probably the The Unilever Series by Carsten Höller. It was a series of amazing slides that you take from the second, third and even the fifth floor.

The slides wind around a central pole.

There’s solid on the bottom half but glass on the upper half so you can see where you’re going.

You sit on and put your feet into a canvas towel to ride down the tube. Here Shaun O’Sullivan enters the fifth floor slide.

Shaun crosses his arms and lets go.

Here Christian Kazakoff somes out at the bottom after his five-story ride.

A better look at the canvas towel as Christian dismounts the slide.

Afterwards, we went to the Blackfriar, an absolutely beautiful pub steeped in ornate details and history.

An old sign out front.

Unfortunately, inside — though also quite ornate and stunningly beautiful — it smelled of sulfur and sewage, as if the pipes had recently backed up. The people inside either didn’t seem to notice or had grown used to it. But none of us could stay inside for very long and so we kept moving.

We had a late lunch at the Lamb, near our hotel. The beer was decent, but the food could have been better. Overall, it was a little disappointing to see that most pubs looked great outside and in, but carried a somewhat narrow range of beers that differed only according to what pub company owned them. There were very few true free houses. And while I might argue that their beers, and especially the popular ones, were still real ales and much better overall then the beers that dominate our bars, there was still a lack of diversity found in many average Bay Area bars.

For the rest of the evening, we walked from pub to pub in an effort to stay up as long as possible. We had a pint at the Lamb & Flag and Ye Grapes before ending up at the White Horse for the rest of the evening.

• • •

January 21, 2007

Drumbalaya

Categories: Photos, Porter, Alice, Movies — J @ 1:13 pm

The other morning, Sarah got out all of our pots and pans for the kids to drum on. I don’t honestly know what she was thinking, but the kids sure did have a good time.

Using spoons for drumsticks, the kids happily turned our home into cacophony of drumming.

Man, the kids could make a racket.

The next Buddy Rich?


Here’s just a sample of what our house sounded like all morning.

• • •

January 16, 2007

Pasta Night in Novato

Categories: Photos, Porter, Alice, J, Food — J @ 3:05 pm

With white carpet in the new house, we decided it was best to enjoy our first meal of pasta at the island in the kitchen.

Alice and Porter enjoying their spaghetti.

With music in the background, I kept encouraging Alice to dance.

Finally succeeding.

She busted her moves right there on the bar stool.

• • •

January 14, 2007

Fancy Dressing

Categories: Photos, J, Sarah — J @ 9:07 pm

The other night Sarah and I had a black tie affair to attend. One of the founders of Sarah’s new company is retiring and they had a big tribute dinner for him Friday night. We started at the Bubble Lounge (one of my favorite non-beer bars) with champagne and then dinner was right next door at the members-only Villa Taverna. It was the first I’ve met all of the people Sarah is working with at her new job, and we both had a great time.

Sarah and me in our fancy dress.

At our table.

At the end of the evening, hammered (we weren’t driving).

• • •

January 12, 2007

Fish Tied

Categories: Photos, Porter — J @ 8:34 am

Inexplicably, Porter wanted to wear a tie to school today. Not wanting to impede his burgeoning fashion sense, we found his fishing tie and changed his shirt to one with a collar so he could wear it.

Porter in his fishing tie.

• • •

December 16, 2006

Here Comes Santa Claus

Categories: Events, Photos, Alice — J @ 4:16 pm

Santa Claus did finally find a parking space and greeted the kids with a bag full of presents, calling each child’s name to come up and get their gift.

Alice goes up up to get her present.

Then dashed back to me.

Everyone got a book. Here Porter’s friend Katie looks through hers. Porter talks about Katie all the time. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he has a crush on her.

Katie and Alice move closer to Santa.

For a group photo of all the kids with Santa Claus.

• • •

December 15, 2006

Waiting for Santa

Categories: Events, Photos, Alice — J @ 1:46 pm

Today Alice’s Montessori got a vist from Santa Claus, but since I knew he was coming I was on hand to watch. Unfortunately, Santa had trouble finding a parking spot and was delayed. I remarked that he should have parked on the roof. One of the boys there informed me that the preschool had no fireplace and therefore he had to use the door. Hilarious. Anyway, Alice and I waited along with everyone else for Saint Nick to arrive.

C’mon Santa, I’m bored.

What was that nose? Is Santa here?

I’ll just keep making faces ’till he comes.

This is my cute face.

• • •

December 8, 2006

Anchor Christmas Party 2006

Categories: Events, Photos, J, Sarah, Friends, Beer, Food — J @ 1:08 pm

Last night Anchor Brewery held their annual invitation only Christmas party. As usual, it was a great time with good friends, good food and, of course, great beer. While the potato wedges were the most welcome addition to the evening’s food, the best combination was an all-meat chili made with Anchor Steam beer to which I added crumbled Maytag Blue Cheese and paired with Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale.

The leading lights at Anchor: Fritz Maytag, John Dannerbeck and Mark Carpenter.

Guests at Anchor’s annual Christmas party.

A self-portrait with my good friend Bruce Joseph, who does the distilling at Anchor Distilling.

Former Publican Judy Ashworth and Christian Kazakoff, head brewer from Triple Rock.

Celebrator publisher Tom Dalldorf and beer writer Angie Wagner.

Staff and writers of the Celebrator Beer News.

The beautiful, supportive and tolerant Sarah and me.

The lovely Jen Garris looking even more lovely than usual.

The gleaming copper kettles.

Caught enjoying the yummy frittes.

R.J. Trent, former brewer, who just opened the newest BevMo on Van Ness Boulevard and Jeremy Cowan of He’Brew, whose newest beers lately have been wonderful, especially the 10 Monumental Jewbelation and Bittersweet Lenny’s R.I.P.A. (a rye-based Imperial IPA).

• • •

November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving 2006

Categories: Events, Photos, Porter, Alice, Friends, Movies, Food — J @ 12:09 pm

Happy Thanksgiving from the Brookston family. It’s been a while since my last post, but one of these days I’ll catch up. In the emantime, enjoy some photos and a movie from the kids’ Montessori Thanksgiving feast that took place on Wednesday.

The kids, all dressed up for Thankgiving.

The Montessori Thanksgiving table set out for all of the kids.


The kids sang a little song of Thanksgiving.

Porter and a friend chow down.

Alice in her white dress at the table.

• • •

October 21, 2006

The Rubber Band WoMan

Categories: Photos, Alice — J @ 1:27 pm

Many times Alice’s teachers put her hair in pigtails or a ponytail, but today they really outdid themselves.

Her hair was an elaborate series of rubber bands.

Wow, how did they get her to keep still so long?

But it sure looked good.

And seemed to make Alice happy, too.

• • •

October 13, 2006

Harry Porter

Categories: Photos, Porter — J @ 2:46 pm

The last three or four days Porter has gone to school wearing the top half of his superman costume, including the cape, with a jacket keeping his disguise intact. He’s also been taking a pair of my reading glasses to complete his Clark Kent transformation. But to his teachers at Montessori, he looked more like Harry Potter, so they started calling him Harry Porter. And apparently it stuck and all the kids called him that for the rest of the day.

Alice and Harry Porter.

The Wizard Porter.

Here you can see his jacket with the blue of his Superman suit peeking out of the top.

• • •

October 12, 2006

This Little Piggy

Categories: Photos, Alice — J @ 3:21 pm

Not much of a story here, just some phtos of Alice in pigtails now that her hair is getting long enough that we can do that.

The teachers at Alice’s Montessori do a much beter job with Alice’s hair than I ever could.

Back home with her lunchbox.

Waiting for me on the stairs.

Giving me smile.

• • •
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