A little over a month ago, I mentioned that after a somewhat lengthy hiatus from homebrewing due to personal time commitments, etc, I was itching to get back on the horse, or more accurately, back to the brew kettle. Well, true to my word, a few weeks later I was knee deep in malt and fretting over my hopping schedule.
It was glorious, and turned out to be one of the most enjoyable Friday nights I’ve had all year.
Ever since I started the homebrewing, I’ve typically gotten one of two responses when mentioning it. Those are, either: “ZOMG! That is SO cool! Can I try some?” or “ZOMG! That is SO cool! But man, isn’t it a lot of work?”
The answer to both those questions is, not surprisingly, “Yes”.
I have to admit that as my date with the boil approached, I found myself both as excited as a grade-school kid on field trip day yet also as fearful as someone trying to conceptualize an audience in their underthings for their first public speech. I knew what to expect and was looking forward to getting the boil rolling, but Oh, My! the number of things that can go wrong is unnerving. What if the steep was too hot? What if the wort didn’t cool fast enough? What if I couldn’t prevent the dreaded boil over and my wife demanded a new kitchen the next day? What if I couldn’t manage it all alone; I’d never done it just by myself!
Clearly, the only appropriate response to such an avalanche of what-ifery was the application of the Papazian Rule: Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew. Sadly, lacking any homebrew at the time (which is the point of this, duh), I had to make due with something store-bought. Thankfully, though, I generally have a lot more options than when Mr. Papazian coined that phrase decades ago.
At any rate, beer in hand and suitably relaxed, I went about the tasks necessary to produce my batch of Rusty Nail. All was well.
It was just as I finished that night, wort cooled, yeast pitched, and kettle cleaned, that I recalled something I’d been told earlier that week. I’d been describing the beer I hoped to make to someone, and he said he couldn’t wait to try it. I replied that I’d be happy to offer a sample, if I didn’t totally screw the brew and end up with five gallons of something resembling fish sauce that couldn’t even go down the sink for fear of EPA reprisal. He told me that things would no doubt go well, because surely it was just like riding a bike: one might be out of practice, but you never truly forgot.
Turns out, he was absolutely right.
I bottled that batch of Rusty Nail last night, three weeks later, and found myself pleased with the process. Everything tastes, smells, and feels pretty much as it’s supposed to, and I’m looking forward to seeing (read: tasting) how it comes out after developing some carbon dioxide in the bottles.
Still, I know people who wonder at the patience necessary to commit to such a hobby. How can you wait another week after waiting so long already? The thing for me, though, is that I like that it takes so long. The modern world is zip, zip, zip, go, go, go, don’t stop moving or you’ll die. We get irked if an oil change takes more than 10 minutes, and most of us are looking for a new PC with a faster boot sequence because that 20 seconds out of our day is just a killer.
I think most of us could use a little slowing down sometimes, myself included, and making beer is the perfect tonic for the high pressure ailments of life. Yes, it requires patience, but then again, all that waiting will hopefully, eventually, lead to well-earned rewards.
I tasted my young, green beer last night, and I know from experience that it tastes pretty much how it should at this stage. I’ve come this far and not screwed it up yet, and we’re now down to the home stretch. If I didn’t ruin it last night, a week from now I’ll be sipping it proudly, reveling in nearly a month’s worth of my own labor.
The thought made me grin happily in anticipation.
A return to home-brewing: Achievement Unlocked.
PS: Looks like my beer’s about ready. So who’s ready for a Hoperatives Homebrew event? Anyone busy in the middle of May? Week of May, 20th, perhaps? Who’s in?