Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Relax! Don't Worry. Have a Homebrew!

For Father's Day last year, (because I am a generous, loving wife with such a laid back attitude towards giving up precious closet space to frivolous hobbies), I bought Joe all the materials he'd need to start homebrewing, something he'd desperately been wanting to try.  It appeals to the "let's go off the grid" side of him.  All this stuff, including tubing, a siphon thingie, a giant funnel, some special scrub brushes, a bottle capper, and of course big glass vessels the size of a pony keg came in a kit, and I even splurged and upgraded to something better than the entry level kit.   

Having gotten on board with the idea, I actually got as excited as Joe to have him try brewing his first batch of beer.  First, though, there was the business of skimming Charlie Papazian's The Complete Joy of Home Brewing for advice.  In addition to being an encyclopedia of beer making knowledge, this book is kind of (unintentionally) hilarious.  The number of times it advises the reader to "Relax!" is astounding.  Is there a big overlap of people delving into brewing their own beer who are also ridiculously uptight about it?  Somehow I doubt it.  I also love that there are pictures of a couple brewing beer in their kitchen circa 1984, grinning ear to ear and wearing cargo jeans, and these people's cat appears in some of the photos.

I believe it was the night of Georgia's birthday, August 9th, that the fermentation process began.  So we decided this would be designated as "Georgia's beer" in honor of the day.  Now, the whole thing takes a few weeks worth of sitting around, so the beer was not ready to be bottled until after June's arrival, and as you'll see from the pictures below, that was a family affair.  

Joe was going for a pale ale flavor, and I thought the end result was pretty good.  Passable, anyway, for a first try.  Joe is beyond convinced that (a) it was not that good, (b) it got worse with the passage of time - the first bottles we drank were okay, but the ones opened a few weeks later were horrendous, and (c) the deficiencies of this batch of beer largely stemmed from improper sanitizing of some of our supplies - apparently the sanitization has to be perfect, or everything gets screwed up.      

No matter.  Try, try again, right?  Wrong!  Joe has yet to make his second batch!  C'mon!!!  He seems to think it's necessary to consult a brew master for further instruction.  He relies on other flimsy excuses such as: utter lack of time.  Phooey!  

So, sweetie, if you are reading this, I would just like to point you to a helpful passage from Appendix 8 of the book: 
The problem usually emerges when you begin to wonder if your beer is the way it's supposed to be.  To begin with, don't worry.  Worrying is likely to spoil the taste of beer more than anything else you may have inadvertently done.  Worrying does not contribute to a solution.  My first recommendation is to become concerned.  My second suggestion is to try to understand why your beer tastes or appears the way it does and third, don't avoid your hunch - do something about it.  Perhaps there is nothing seriously wrong with your beer, but you will have learned something through the process of discovery.  Your tiny efforts will surely pay off with a vast improvement in future beers.  
In other words, RELAX!


{Sleep deprived, but still hanging in there. (Please include this with my Wife Hall of Fame nomination.)}

{I hear that if you expose children to alcohol at a very young age, they're less likely to become abusers of it later in life. June is 12 days old here. That should work, right?}


Danni said...

Yes make another batch! I have to say I can relate to putting off making a batch of beer. It's sort of a production. And when your prior results haven't been awesome it's hard to want to spend the time. But Joe should give it another try for sure! We should too. I think our last batch is about done.

Me? A Mom? said...

hysterical. thanks for the early morning chuckle.

Sarah said...

Hilarious! Georgia looks concerned :)

Ann said...

This is so well timed. We have a new batch waiting to be bottled in our hall closet. It's been there, oh, for a couple of MONTHS! I know he says he'll get to it, but c'mon already. I wanna drink it!

So let's go, Joe. Time for round two.

Maggie said...

First, definitely need to make more... second, I think it's not the quality of the beer that's the problem, it's the setting... if you bring some out to our back porch and we enjoy them with you here, I think you'll find the beer tastes even better...

Kate said...

Maggie - excellent point! I will add that to my aresenal of reasons that he needs to get on the stick.

Anonymous said...

Remember, you don't have to tell people what kind of beer you set out to make. You could just call it monobrau or Blatz.