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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 31, 2007

The Pirate Kids

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

Alex got Porter and Alice some way cool pirate t-shirts from Greenwich, which is right next to where they live in Lewisham. Greenwich is, of course, where the “0″ or prime meridian is and time begins, so to speak. It’s also where a lot of the naval history for England is, such as the Maritime Museum. For kids, it’s also home to pirate history.

Porter got the “Pirate” shirt while Alice, quite fittingly, was a “Buccaneer.”

Getting a big buccaneer smile from Alice.

• • •

January 28, 2007

Last Day in London

Categories: Photos, J, Friends, Beer, Trips — J @ 12:52 pm

We had nothing planned for Sunday so we all wen our separate ways on our own adventures. I did some shopping for gifts for the kids and Sarah and then met Keith near Piccadilly in the afternoon. We spent a nice day catching up and sightseeing.

I took the tube to Piccadilly Circus to shop for the kids at Hamley’s toy store.

The Crown on Brewer Street.

Spam-A-Lot.

Trafalgar Square at night.

Keith trying to take a night photo, too. We’re standing on the front porch, so to speak, of the National Gallery.They were getting ready to close, but we did get to see a new exhibition, Manet to Picasso, which featured some great pieces like Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and Renoir’s The Umbrellas, among much else.

Then we strolled down to the Houses of Parliament to see Big Ben.

Looking up at Big Ben from the Westminster Bridge.

The giant London Eye ferris wheel across the Thames.

That night Keith and I had dinner at the Seven Stars pub.

The Seven Stars in Holborn is an ancient pub that celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2002.

Keith and me before I dropped him off at the tube station and walked back to my hotel, stopping at the Queen’s Larder for a last pint.

• • •

January 27, 2007

The Old Ale Festival

Categories: Photos, J, Friends, Beer — J @ 11:00 am

Our primary reason for the trip to London was to attend the 24th annual Old Ale Festival at the White Horse on Parson’s Green, which is located in southwest London. Landlord and cellerman Mark Dorber, who’s been at the pub for decades, is leaving this year and we wanted to visit him at the bar while we still could. He was, as always, a gracious host and we spent a fabulous full twelve hours there at the festival, from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Of the 47 beers listed for the festival, we tried all but eight, and that’s because those beers were not yet on tap while we were there.

The White Horse on Parson’s Green.

The Parson’s Green that the White Horse is on.

Pulling a pint behind the bar.

Landlord Mark Dorber pulling my first pint of the day, Bass No. 1.

Our little corner of the world for the day. From left: Motor’s friend Chris’ wife, Motor, Doug, me, Christian Kazakoff and Shaun O’Sullivan. Doug was a retired engineer and homebrewer who came down for the festival. He was sitting alone at the table doing a crossword puzzle and so I asked him if we could join him.

Motor orders some haggis to soak up the beer.


We all tried a bite. Here Shaun shovels his haggis.

My first Cantillon after visiting the brewery the day before.

Doug and me mid-afternoon, just before he headed home. We had a great time talking with him, and I think he had a good time, too, spending his day with us Yanks.

Later we had a tour of the cellars below the pub.

Mark Dorber conducted a tour/tasting of the cellars.

Where he opened several bottles of J.W. Lees Harvest Ale.

While upstairs the jazz band began playing as night fell.

Finally the Norman’s Conquest was put on, which I was happy about. I’d been waiting to try it again. I had it at a CAMRA festival in Peterbrough about ten years ago. It has an Original Gravity of 1066, which I always found a clever joke.

Eventually, the evening wound down and I had my last pint.

Motor and Shaun O’Sullivan with a couple of Burgundian Babble Belt members at the festival.

Roger Protz and me at the end of the evening.

• • •

January 26, 2007

The Brewery Museum at Cantillon

Categories: Photos, J, Friends, Beer, Trips — J @ 10:41 pm

Our first stop upon arriving in Brussels on Friday was a tour of the Brasserie Cantillon.

Brasserie Cantillon, the last remaining brewery in Brussels proper, is located in a dicey area of town, in the southern part near the Midi train station. It’s an unassuming building that belies the treasures that await the visitor inside.

Inside is the tasting area and the brewery offices, in, of course, the same building since 1900.

Where we enjoyed our first Cantillon of the day. From left: Thomas, Christian, Motor and Shaun.

Cantillon owner Jean-Pierre Van Roy with Shaun Christian and our tour guide, Yvan De Baets.

An old, no-longer used bottler is on display in the tasting area.

This old, still-used contraption looks like it could fly away.

The styles of beer Cantillon makes use old hops to keep their bittering qualities restrained, usually around three years old.

The mash tun on the second floor.

Inside the kettle.

The grain mill.

The grain itself is stored one floor up, in the dry attic.

Where there’s also an old hand bottling machine.

Another half floor above the attic is where all the magic happens, in the shallow square copper cooling tun.

Where slatted windows are adjusted to allow spontaneous fermentation.

Then the beer is stored in wooden casks of oak or chestnut for up to three years.

Where individual codes are put on each barrel to indicate what and when is inside.

A sign in one of the barrel rooms reads “Le temps ne respecte pas ce qui se fait sans lui,” which translates as “time does not respect what is done without him.”

This barrel, for example, is a Lambic (L), and was part of the 13th batch (13) done during the brewing season over years 2005-06 (I).

Inside one of the barrels that’s been aging over a year.

After bottling, they are racked tightly against the wall for further aging.

Yvan pours Thomas the Rose de Gambrinus.

Jean, the heir apparent, will apparently succeed his father Jean-Pierre in running the brewery as of this March.

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

• • •

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.

• • •

Common Words, Uncommon Meanings

Categories: Humor — J @ 12:07 pm

I came across this list by accident searching for something unrelated and I thought it was pretty funny. So I thought I’d share. Apparently, the Washington Post published its winning submissions to a yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words:

coffee, n. the person upon whom one coughs.
flabbergasted, adj. appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
abdicate, v. to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
esplanade, v. to attempt an explanation while drunk.
negligent, adj. absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

lymph, v. to walk with a lisp.
gargoyle, n. olive-flavored mouthwash.
flatulence, n. emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.
balderdash, n. a rapidly receding hairline.
testicle, n. a humorous question on an exam.

rectitude, n. the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
pokemon, n. a Rastafarian proctologist.
oyster, n. a person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
Frisbeetarianism, n. the belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
circumvent, n. an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

• • •

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.

• • •
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