Last July, I was driving down my street, headed to a dentist appointment. I saw a neighbor and two other relatively young men sitting in a camp chairs around a deep fat fryer. Odd, I thought, because who fries a turkey in July. But, as I was running a tad late, I couldn’t stop to investigate. However, when I returned (cavity-less, no less) 90 minutes later, they will still there. I quickly pulled into my driveway, barely getting the car parked, and skipped down four houses to satisfy my curiosity. Indeed, no turkey…they were BREWING BEER. My interest in beer had been growing for some time, having been thoroughly entranced by the book, The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver.
I had even gotten my first level Cicerone certification (Certified Beer Server…I have the pin to prove it). They were just ending the afternoon’s festivities, but Ben promised he would holler over when they were to brew again. True to his word, a month later, I was sitting in Ben’s driveway waiting for the magic.
I was fascinated, snapping photographs and scribbling notes in my journal, trying to remember every detail. We drank beer and even tasted some of Ben’s homemade dandelion wine.
I was hooked, but in a quandary as well. I started reading brewing books, but found myself stymied when it came time to purchase the necessary equipment. The move to Louisville, CO brought us closer to our friends Chris and Carolyn. Carolyn is a skilled cheese maker and fermenter of all sorts of things and her husband was not only interested in brewing, but also had a brother who had been brewing for quite some time and would lend us advice and some used equipment. Chris ordered what we needed and then we discovered the Lafayette Homebrew Supply (George Otteni, owner, http://www.lafayettehomebrew.com/) and purchased the last of our supplies there.
I had always wanted to do an ESB (Extra Special Bitter), one of my first favorite beer styles, thanks to the fine folks at Fuller’s. I even had the name…ABD ESB. An inside joke as I had left a doctoral program before finishing my dissertation, a somewhat painful consequence when, after 34 years, I decided to leave the field of education.
I should also mention the invaluable assistance provided by Charlie Papazian, although I have never met him. This is Charlie. This is Charlie’s book which to this day I keep close by at all times. Of course, we have a small house, but nevertheless…
21 dog-eared pages and countless underlines…
Chris arrived at my house around 1:00 pm. We, home brewers like casual start times (at least Chris and I do). We were fidgeting around, getting everything perfect, running back to the brew store to pick up some things we had forgotten, so we didn’t actually “flame on” until 3:00 pm and transferred the 5 gallons of elixir to the fermenter at 6:00 pm. It would stay in the fermenter for two weeks and then finish in the bottle for another week or so.
Leap forward in time to May 2nd, 2014 and we have only one bottle remaining of that very first brew. Our friends and relatives are surprised by how good it tastes.
Much has happened as we have picked up neighbors and friends. Yesterday we bottled our fourth brew, a double IPA and completed our fifth brew, a Russian Imperial Stout, and are planning the move from extract and steeping grains to all grain brewing. Much more to reflect on in the coming weeks.
Brewmaster’s Table http://allthingsbeverage.com/the-brewmasters-table-by-garrett-oliver/
Garrett Oliver http://www.centralmarket.com/Blog/Posts/September-2013/Get-Schooled-By-Garrett-Oliver-for-Brewniversity
Charlie Papazian http://www.lootcorp.com/tag/charlie-papazian/
Joy Of Homebrewing http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2011/03/homebrewing-books-the-complete-joy-of-homebrewing-charlie-papazian.html