Sunday, September 19, 2010


For those readers under the age of 21—and if you don’t have proper ID I don’t care how gray your hair is—let it be known that nary a drop of liquor passed my lips before I was of legal age. I was too busy studying my lessons, and volunteering for several local charitable organizations, and tending to all of the chores around the house.

My sister and brother were no help at all.

If you are already old enough to drink, then you know most of what you just read is malarkey. Except the part about my evil siblings. I was Cinderella and they just stood there and laughed at me in my dusty frock. And I did study and volunteer and chore myself to death, wondering which day my prince would come.

Or princess. I wasn’t picky.

When it became legal for me to buy liquor, I did. If memory serves, the morning of May 15, 1983 I found the nearest liquor store with the earliest “Open” sign and bought myself a birthday present. I say “if memory serves” because I don’t really remember all that well. Probably because of the passage of time . . . or because I drank a case of beer on my own just because I could.

I have sampled many different drinks in my day, and I have a few favorites. Fortunately, friends keep introducing me to new concoctions and my favorites list grows. It gets to the point that I visit my local BevMo superstore and just stand in the center near the snack racks with my arms outspread, slowly spinning hypnotically. Until I am asked to leave, which I try to do quietly (as long as I can grab a bottle or two on my way out).

In my own defense, let me assure you that my life doesn’t revolve around alcohol. I’ve successfully held down a variety of jobs over the years (but yes, as a substitute teacher you might say that I am currently underemployed) and the family budget has never had a line item titled “booze” (but yes, that might be due to the difficulty in separating expenses including beer from the gas station and drinks with a nice dinner out and cash purchases at the liquor store and trading cigarettes for moonshine with neighborhood hillbillies).

Moderation and I have a passing acquaintance, an uneasy alliance you might say. I don’t nag it for being a party-pooper, and it generally leaves me alone unless it finds me lying in a gutter. Then it drags me home and drops me on the front porch, to be thwacked in the head when the morning newspaper is flung porchward.

Despite my apparent adult fascination with a wide variety of drink mixers and concoctions, I most often return to my first love: beer. It can be refreshing after late afternoon yard work, and it can be used to toast celebratory events as widely diverging as a Superbowl victory or the birth of a family heir. Even better, if you’ve had a few too many you might be forgiven for drawing a mascara mustache on the little heir.

My newest adventure in beer is the home brewing of it. I want to follow in the steps of a friend of mine who has successfully brewed two batches of beer and who has been kind enough to let me share in the joy. I didn’t have to share in the joy of the work, or the hours of boiling and mixing and storing and bottling and waiting. No, I didn’t even have to wait.

I drank store-bought beer until Kurtis called me up and said his was ready to taste. That’s exactly the moment I was able to share: the tasting.

His was so good I want to try it on my own, but I am scared. I am scared of the capital investment, because if I don’t take pleasure in the process of crafting my own ale I will be stuck with large piles of equipment. Bottles and caps and a capper; kettles and brushes and funnels and a carboy; thermometer and hydrometer and siphon and airlock. As a minimalist that would seriously irk me, to have it all sitting around and taunting me.

I am also scared of not being very good at it. I don’t want to make beer that people spit out. I am also scared that there are just too many brands left on the BevMo shelves that I have not tried.

So maybe I will join Kurtis in the actual work the next time he brews his five gallons—if he’ll let me—and I’ll see if I actually feel an urge to do so on my own. If the answer is yes, I’ll buy the equipment and jump right in to the process.

If not, I’ll drink Kurtis’s and find some other hobby. Hmm, maybe I would enjoy growing wine grapes.

1 comment:

  1. I'd be set if I could brew Crown Royal at home. (or is it distill? I really have no idea.)

    I do enjoy a well-crafted beer. One of my favorite places to buy beer around here is called Kegs & Cellars. You can make your own 6-pack by mix-matching any of their at least 100 different choices. I drink beers that actually taste good, not simply to become drunk. Kegs & Cellars was a great way to taste soooo many great beers (and unfortunately, some bad ones, too.)