Monday, November 5, 2012

The Homebrew Diaries: My History

I love beer.

Not, you know, in a Homer Simpson kind of way. It's more of an Alton Brown thing -- I'm intrigued by tastes and textures, by processes, by ingredients, by the things that have to go right for a batch to turn out and the things that can go wrong.

It hasn't always been this way. My dad brewed beer when I was younger and the smell of half-ready wort was enough to scare me away from the stuff until I was 23 years old. I didn't drink the cheap stuff in college -- as long as I can remember, I've been of the opinion that if I'm going to consume something, I will enjoy it.

When I was a senior, I took a biochemical engineering class where as an extracurricular activity, we brewed beer at our professor's house. It was a lot of fun and reintroduced me to good beer, the kind where you can pick out multiple flavors and just enjoy ... instead of referring to it as "carbonated excrement."

And then ... I moved to Wisconsin.

There, I found people who were passionate about beer, people who talked microbrews and recipes and food pairings. Beer was something to be enjoyed, something to be savored, and something that went with all of their favorite pastimes, whether football, cribbage, bowling, or knitting. It was a whole new world and it was amazing.

Since those days, I've taken my education on the road, so to speak. I read, I tour, I sample, and I discuss. I might not have the opportunities I had in Wausau (living within easy walking distance of two breweries made for a different approach) but hey, this is the 21st century and this Internet thing is a wonderful beast. I love the variety, the history, the uses. I'm fascinated by the different laws governing the manufacture, sale, and distribution of alcohol. Most of all, I'm into the chemistry of fermentation. Like my newly expanded love of football, my love of beer wholly involves my nerdy personality, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now, it's come full circle. With the help of my dad -- who originally scared me away from beer -- I've finally started homebrewing. It may be awhile before I do things "from scratch" (that is, without a kit) but I fully intend to take the methodical, scientific approach to this and add in pieces as I learn.

If you'll excuse me, I have six dozen bottles to sanitize before we bottle tonight. Wish me luck.

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