I am an unabashed home brewer. I will give up four to six hours of my life to brew my own beer. Why? Several reasons.
One: I. Made. This. Great. Beer! I went to college, I know what it's like to drink the cheapest, most watered down beer. It's the fuel of college kids. Well, that & Ramen noodles. I've also drank most of the American mass-produced beers — Budweiser products, Coors, Miller, etc. They're okay, but the prices have gone up quite a bit. I've drank the expensive stuff too, the Dos Equis, various micros, German & English imports. Most of them are pretty good, but after making a trip from Mexico or from a coast in the back of a semi truck (after a trip in a shipping container on a ship), they aren't as good as if they had just come from the tap or from a bar in-country.
Two: I can make the equivalent of two cases of really good, flavorful beer in just about any style and flavor for about the price of two cases of Bud Light. Maybe a little more, but definitely less than $30 most of the time. I'm not stuck with Milwaukee's Best Light because it's among the cheapest. I'm not paying this much for inferior common beer. And, I'm not paying God knows how much for this much import beer!
Three: I can grow some of my own ingredients, saving even more money! This year, as seen in a previous post, I grew my own Nugget hops. I was only able to harvest an ounce of usable hops, but now that I have more of a feel for growing them and when to harvest, I will have a much bigger crop next year. Plus, I can grow several varieties for even more flavors for my beers. I'm thinking Cascade is next to go in my garden.
Four: It's a hobby that I thoroughly enjoy, both while brewing the beer and then drinking it in the months afterward. Yes, I said months! Each five gallon batch I make yields about 2 cases. Those 2 cases will usually last me almost three months. I'm not a heavy drinker & never have been. That's not saying I don't know how to tie one on, but if you don't believe me, just ask Lori! I think it's probably the main reason she lets me do it ;) All things in moderation…
It's also a hobby and tradition that I can pass on to the kids when they're old enough. Before you crucify me for even thinking that, you have to remember that many of the great figures of the Bible had ties to alcohol, specifically wine. Noah was the world's first documented vintner (winemaker), and there are many references to wine as the drink of choice. So it's been going on for millennia. I'm the one who will have to answer for my actions one day, and if I've interpreted the Bible wrong, it's on me. Besides, my kids will have to be at least 18 before I can even think about them helping me with Quality Assurance duties ;)
Five: You meet, electronically or in person, some really interesting people who are home brewers. Case in point: If you're a Star Trek the Next Generation fan, you'll know that Wil Wheaton played Ensign Wesley Crusher in the series. He is a home brewer and blogs about it some. I also follow other home brewers from all over the country. I'm used to that sort of exposure through my work at the library, but to find such a vast pool of knowledge available for the asking just helps me make even better beer! If you brew, or know someone who does, tell them to give me a holler.
Right now, I have a clone of a clone of Avery Brewing Company's Old Jubilation Ale, taken from Brew Your Own Magazine's clone recipes special edition. My variations include my own Nugget hops from the garden and a special strain of yeast created by White Labs & my favorite home brew shop, Rebel Brewer. And since I goofed & forgot to order one more type of hops for this batch, I've had to double up on Northern Brewer's hops. Shouldn't matter a whole lot, though I know my flavor profile will be a little bit off. But since I've never had one of ABC's beers, I'll never know the difference unless I make it out to Colorado or find one in a store somewhere.
I've been working on this post over the course of a week or so, as I have time to sit down & type. It's hard to keep it in, but I am working on something really big professionally, and when I can I will be blogging about it. It's just THAT big and I have to keep it under wraps. So in most of my spare time I'm having to teach myself the PHP programming language in preparation. I've done programming in the past, but it's been a while & I'm rusty. Additionally, lots of things have changed in the languages since I last had to do any programming, so I'm learning some new stuff as I go.
This beer I have fermenting right now has been dubbed the Hogeye Jubilation Ale, part homage to Avery Brewing's Ale, part my geographical location, sometimes known as Hogeye. It should be ready for bottling this weekend, and in 2 weeks' time I will have one to see if it needs further aging. Hopefully it won't.
'Til next time…