Friday, October 30, 2009

Why ask why - Fermentation Friday

... Even in the blogosphere some of you are old enough to complete that line, but the true answer here isn't drinking Bud Dry. But it is related to other forms of low-alcohol beer.

Starting from the beginning, I brew because B James brews and showed me how when I was around visiting one time. I was amazed, he didn't make it look too complicated and the end product was good. As an added bonus it puts men in the kitchen for the day, which I support. Prior to this spate of brewing we had wanted to make whiskey, but it is clearly illegal and not something we aspire to or participate in at all. Fast forward another year and I keep meeting home-brewers. Brewers who live in smaller apartments than I do and produce passable and sometimes even good beers. All this with nothing but a pot and a closet to keep some sort of bucket. Amazingly, the technological barriers to making beer just faded away over that year.

The motivation was slower to come. I spent two years living in the UK, drinking huge, flavorful, low carbonation and low-alcohol pints. Coming back to the states, everything flavorful seemed to be very high in alcohol, which is not conducive to having a pint with a long lunch, or when coming home before getting on with an evening's work. Mind you, the culture wasn't too conducive to that either. I also moved to Chicago, where the apartments seem luxurious in their spaciousness compared to everywhere else I'd lived for a while. So I had the motivation to start brewing. The means came via the wedding registry.

But there is a deeper story here, one of ornery self reliance. The first good beer I ever had was from a Vermont farmer who passed me a ported after I helped him bale a bunch of hay when I was 17. And I do come from true whiskey country. I brew, in short, because I like creating a product that I can't get conveniently. The freedom of expression is certainly liberating and the wrangling of yeast, temperature and malt is clearly an entertaining challenge. Applying the self-same obsession to research and experimentation that keeps me out of the rain and on my own schedule for work has been a nice surprise. In the end, I brew so I can have beer. At the moment I break about even, including equipment, for the amount of beer I drink or give away. Planned upgrades will make that less so, as would an inclusion of my time in the equation. Still, I don't brew when I would otherwise be working, I brew when I'd otherwise be sitting around playing video games. Of the two, brewing might be healthier.

Thanks, as always, to Adam for putting this together and the CNYBrew for hosting. We here at JABB are hosting November's Fermentation Friday. The topic will be, "Tell us about your homebrew communities." We are announcing early and often because of Thanksgiving and will post a wrap up the Monday following, to ease you back into the working world.

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