This second blog post started as a blank doc on a computer and in the moments before I started typing there was sense of complete fear. What if I have nothing to say, what if it’s terrible and I sound like an idiot … what if I fail? Whether staring at a blank piece of paper, an empty canvas or a lump of clay when it is time to create, there is a flood of emotion and wonder. Now imagine that fear lasting two weeks when brewing that first batch of beer. All the effort put in and all the time spent could end up as just undrinkable plant water or an explosion of foam.
Ignorance is bliss – consider the first person to make beer. There were no instructions, no blogs, no specialized equipment, no video tutorials, no forums describing everything that can and will go wrong, no Amazon to save my ass when something is missing. The art of creating with whatever is available and the sense of discovery must have been amazing.
Now I can’t say I am a complete novice, because in my line of work I manufacture a consumer product using a very simple and bastardized version of fermentation, but, as it is not being produced for consumption, many finer points are glossed over. The concept seems such simple science but the execution an entirely different entity. It reminds me of the basketball team full of geniuses. Each team member knew exactly the speed, rotation trajectory and the formulas to calculate the perfect shot. But, when the time came to physically perform during the big game, not even one could come close to the net.
I like the taste of water. That seems like a silly thing to bring up, but, water does have a taste and it will affect the taste of your beer. Go to New York and they swear that their pizza is so good because of the water! It’s the same in Ireland with beer and whiskey. Unfortunately, the area in Arizona I live in the water tastes like rocks and is just as hard so my only choice was to boil or hit the bottle.
Let’s brew! The process is simple … heat some water … add some stuff … boil … add some more stuff … check the temperature and don’t kill the yeast. The unexpected part is the boil over, which is why I decided against brewing in my kitchen. Besides, it was only 108 degrees – a nice day to be outside – and would be easier to clean up if I made a mess. There is a fine line in the boiling process when adding the liquid malt extract. A micro degree too hot and there is a sticky foam eruption! This would have happened to me, but, with only three gallons in an eight-gallon pot, the foam only reached the brim. After that part, it’s smooth sailing.
Adding the yeast and sealing up the bucket is the last step before the long wait. I know I did that part right because the yeast is doing its job and creating alcohol. Now the torturous 2-3 week wait begins so look for an update next month!
To celebrate this accomplishment and relax after spending several hours outside my wife and I had signed up for an evening run. Amazing what I will do for a beer! That was the only part I had really focused on up until Saturday so I have no one to blame but myself. The event was described as a short 3-mile run followed by a workout in the park and after that there would be beer provided by Huss Brewing.
When we arrived Huss had a tent already set up in the park! That’s what kept me motivated, Huss is one of my favorites. There was more than just a free beer though! We each got a koozie and a coupon for a $1 flight at the newest location. So, logically, Huss Uptown was where we ended up after the event. I think the best part was upon arriving at Huss we discovered all the employees knew about the event and it was not an isolated sponsorship; the bartender was genuinely excited that the event had sold out! I’ll go more into Huss during a later blog as I said I would try to make these short and I’ve already failed on my second try.
It can be a great experience to try and create or try new or intimidating things. At the very least, by the end of the day you might find yourself at a local brewery and there is nothing wrong with that.