Over the last year, I've had several people suggest that I needed to take up a new hobby. I was finding that my days 'off' consisted of more work instead of doing something that allowed me to relax and do something productive and fun, while also still generally being inside (because of a photo sensitive condition).
Let's see, that eliminated Golf, just another four letter word. Monday's eliminate Art Gallerys, (or maybe I just wanted to eliminate them? (BUT the Cincinnati Art Museum is FREE!))
Ok, what's left... hmmmm..... (add in:) I was having trouble finding a beer that I liked and on a recent trip to visit friends in NYC, struck up a conversation on beer brewing. Yeah, but it's too long and complicated a process and I don't have the equipment and the space (wait, have you seen the residence where I live!)
New Hobby Born: home brewing!
Now that I have six batches under my belt, and talking about it with a friend last night, some thoughts.
First, it is nice to do something that you see the results of a few hours worth of labor, when you finish that batch and wash up, I have made: THAT! In so much of our work, whether as a priest or just a faithful committed Catholic, we sow seeds that grow for someone else to harvest. It's nice to have something concrete to look at.
Second: There is just enough tedium to the process that it keeps you honest and sharp. From keeping everything sterile and clean, to washing labels off old bottles, to stirring a boiling pot of wort, just enough to keep you sharp, without being too taxing mentally.
Third: There is a cooperation with God. The brewer prepares the Wort (unfermented beer), God gets the yeast to work their magic. After a few hours of boiling, stirring, steeping, siphoning, etc., the yeast is pitched across the product and it is set aside, and through a slow, steady process, sugars are turned into alcohol and what was once too sweet, is turned into a delicious concoction. God's Grace builds on our nature, taking what we offer Him and bringing it to a higher, greater level than we can do on our own.
Fourth, more than anything, it is fun to share! So far, I've brought a number of products to friends and family to share the fruits of the barley. What greater gift than to say, I made this and want to share it with you! So far, there have been good returns, too! (People actually like drinking this stuff!) (Added Bonus: no taxes!)
Let's see, I started w/ a Robust Porter from Brewer's Best Kits; round 2 was a Witbier, also from Brewer's Best. 3 was a Russian Imperial Stout, (with Lots O Flavor!) also from Brewer's Best, I've pulled some of these aside to rest and sleep for a year or four. Round 4, with my pop, was a Belgian Abbey Ale from Listermann Brewing Company here in Cincinnati (With the Witbier, good summer brews.) Round 5 was an Australian IPA from Brewer's Best, ready to go in bottles tomorrow. 6 was a Irish Red Ale, also w/ Pop brewed this past weekend up at Indian Lake, a kit from Northern Brewer. Tomorrow, an Imperial Vanilla Porter from Hop City in Atlanta gets brewed.
I have a few other kits, including a Black IPA and a Scottish Ale that will be brewed by the end of the summer. Dad has a Nut Brown Ale kit, too.
If you're in the neighborhood, stop over and have ya some!