The big push to get me started on making wine and eventually beer was listening to Jack Spirko on The Survival Podcast. Jack covered in a couple of separate episodes the basics on brewing beer, and some of his personal recipes. He had also talking about making honey wine or mead. My good friend’s father had some old beer making equipment he had not used in years, and said that I could have it as long as I used it… and boy have I put it to good use.
I started off making mead. Dissolve some honey in water, add some yeast, and let it go until it stops bubbling. Piece of cake… really… that’s all there is to it. I thought it turned out pretty good… it was a bit rough on the flavors, but I was so excited about the drink I had just created, it didn’t last but a month. As it turns out, like red wine, mead doesn’t really come into it’s own until about two years, upwards of 5-10 years. I now plan to make some about every 6 months, so that I have enough in rotation to be at it’s drinking best. This is now made possible by the fact that I brew beer too.
I started brewing the beer (which was really my intention from the start) just under a year ago. I bought an ingredient kit from a local shop and followed the instructions on the half page of paper that came with the kit. I had already purchased a book about brewing over a year prior, How to Brew by John Palmer. I hadn’t scanned the book much before I had started, so as I cleaned up from making the first batch, I grabbed the book and started reading. The first thing Palmer suggests you do when you buy a kit is to throw away the instructions… DOH! Artists don’t just start with all of the techniques required to do their best work, they work at their trade and hone their skills. Making beer is the same way, you can’t just learn everything you need to now from half a page of paper.
Like many hobbies I have picked up over the past couple of years; gardening, cycling, the shooting sports, I tend to get pretty heavy into the extensive knowledge of others who know the subject. With brewing, I have now ready several books. I listen to several podcasts that special in brewing. I have started growing my own hops. So, not only do I get the satisfaction of enjoying something that was created from my brain and by the labor of my hands, I also get to enjoy many of the “micro-brew” styles of beer that would cost you $5.00-$10.00 each at a bar… for a little more then a quarter apiece.
As I had mentioned yesterday, part of the whole process is a bit of a mediation for me. I work on and envision what will be created in my mind before I create it. I focus myself. I try to envision the tastes. I clear my mind and stop worrying about things I don’t have any control over. And then… I get to drink the product of my labor… how cool is that?
If you have never made something and shared it with someone, I would recommend it. The look on someone’s face when you hand them a beer and tell them that it is homebrew… priceless. That is a bit of happiness.
So, why do I brew? Hmmm… ahhhh…. that taste right there.