Love/hate

Under the table, under the stairs. That's where Josh and I brew.

Under the table, under the stairs. That’s where Josh and I brew.

I think I’ve spoken before about my dislike of beer — and my happiness and love of Josh’s happiness when he tries new beer.

For Christmas I bought him a homebrew kit. He was giddy. We have so far turned out two beers, one complete, and one currently bottled and becoming carbonated in our tiny closet under the stairs. Having just written that, I wonder why I didn’t insist on calling it the Harry Potter Ale, or the Butterbeer or something else HP related — but I digress. The first was the Handlweizen, named because Josh had a ridiculous moustache when he made it. It’s obviously a wheat beer The second, and still in progress brew, is the Wok This Way IPA, named so because we didn’t have a big enough pot, and ended up using my newly purchased, thousand-gallon wok.

The first brew really went off without a hitch. We used a kit both times, but the Handleweizen was active and bubbly, constantly releasing gasses from the yeast. We bottled it with friends, had a great time, and two weeks later we were drinking it.

Wok was a little different. Again we used a kit. We had hoped to snag a Pilsner, but Josh’s favourite brew shop, Beer Hound Brewery, is closing up shop and moving to Culpeper, where it plans to expand from a nanobrewery to a microbrewery. Nanos and micros, what’s the difference, right? Turns out it’s huge. Anyway, the shop had only two kits left, so we went with IPA. Besides the wok mix up, Josh didn’t buy enough distilled water, and ended up using tap water. A week after the brew process, not a peep had been heard from the yeast. Nothing at all. We worried. Eventually, Josh claimed he saw one little bubble come out. He called me over to the dank closet to check it out. I saw nothing. I gave up after several minutes when my knees began to ache as we huddled around the bucket. Beer brewers are weird.

We let Wok go an extra week and a half. Kind of because of the yeast issue, but also because we got busy and forgot. Every once in awhile I’d ask Josh if it was okay to leave it, and his reply was generally, “I have no idea, but what can it hurt?” As the legendary Charlie Papazian says, “Relax, have a homebrew.”

And hurt it did not. We ended up bottling two weekends ago, and much to our surprise, the beer had accumulated 5 percent alcohol — the same as the Handle. What the heck happened?

We still don’t know, but we bottled it up. This time I got to help a bit more. With Handle, I really just ate snacks and chatted with friends over some wine while Josh and our lovely brewing companion Veronica did the heavy lifting. This time I filled the bottles and splashed beer all over the place, again with wine in hand. It was a really fun night.

I may not like beer, but there’s something about the brewing process that I certainly do love. Maybe it’s the odd spontaneity, the never knowing, the second-guessing, the surprise taste at the end. Whatever it is, I sure do like it.

Picking up that brew kit was some of the best money I ever spent. I think my only complaint so far is that I am constantly picking up, washing and finding a place for pop-off beer bottles. I’ve created a bottle hoarder. Oh well.

Love,
Annalee

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