Sunday, June 3, 2012

Beer Brewing Fool

Believe it or not, I made my first brew (well, I did with the help of a friend). An American Cream Ale. It looks like beer, it tastes like beer, but who knows how much, if any, alcohol it contains (we missed that part of the beer making procedure). Learning experience- yes. Messy kitchen- absolutely. Does it take longer than originally thought- don't most things?

It takes about a month before it is in the form that one can actually consume. 2 weeks in the carboy (or food grade bucket) and then 2 weeks in the bottles.

Last Saturday was the moment of truth- would it be drinkable beer or something to water the plants with. We were cautiously confident that this would be drinkable beer. Other than following the alcohol measuring procedure (which isn't necessarily that important, say, in comparison to adding the yeast), the procedures were followed. Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!

Brew Camp was extremely helpful in providing a down and dirty (sanitize, sanitize, sanitize!!) class on home brewing (and they give you a beer sample while you are there- bonus!) They have all the necessary supplies for getting started, including kits, which, for a novice like me, is the best way to get started. There are so many moving parts to brewing that the kit already measured out was helpful.

Again, this is NOT a "I like to keep my kitchen free of stickiness and mess" process. It is messy, especially if you do not have the tap closed on the food grade bucket, oops!! Oh, and regulating the temperature of water is a pain. It sounds easy in theory, but try it. It is a pain in the rear. I knew this from film development, but I clearly forgot how finicky water temp. happens to be.

It is ugly looking, isn't it?!?

After the first process was completed and the future beer was safely in its bucket, one of my cats somehow found the thermometer (a foot long thermometer), which was hidden under all the other contraptions and pots all air drying, and broke it. A casualty of brewing. He was fine just a little shocked at my rushing out of the bedroom to scoop him up away from the shattered glass. It is amazing how certain sounds can wake one from a dead sleep. A tinkling sound is not a normal night sound  (not like the soothing sounds of base coming from the open window of a car missing a muffler that is speeding down your street) and thus I was up immediately. Thanks Dell.

Anyway, 2nd part, the bottling process, went off without too much fan fair, other than properly filling the bottles (something to get the hang of- another mess can ensue), making sure not to suck up the sludge that sits on the bottom of the transferring bucket and being certain that the caps are on well. It is similar to the apprehension of canning- no one wants to offer a friend or family member a contaminated food item. If you do, that person my not like you anymore. Unless you are looking to reduce your circle of friends, properly sealed foodstuffs is a good thing.

So, you might ask, how was it? It was good. Good color, nice taste, a good foam head and those family and friends that have tried it so far are still alive to talk about it.

If you have some free time and are looking to make a mess, I highly recommend brewing up some of your own. It is fun and there is something satisfying about sitting down to a beer that you created. Cheers!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The beauty that is my mother

Over the weekend my mom and I got together to empty out my storage space- something long over due and because of that, dreaded (the emptying out, not the getting together). Luckily, this is the last of the storage space and what was my married life existence. Donate, dispose, forward on or keep. I guess that is how all things in life go- breaking down memories, souvenirs of our lives. Determining what matters to us then or what we may want in the future- all the while lightening our loads of the things that weigh us down.

My mom is good with this. She always comes willing to lend a hand (and an ear) and doing her best not to invade one's privacy. We usually end up laughing through the task at hand and jumping from topic to topic in a mad whirlwind of jumbled thoughts and tangential stories. She may drive me crazy sometimes, but I appreciate the time we spend and am glad that I have someone like my mother to lean on.

Since retiring, my mother has started to spread her wings- beginning to discover new hobbies. She often claims (falsely, I might add) that she isn't creative or artistic and that these attributes skipped a generation. She is wrong. Like her mother before her, when focused, she is creative and artistic in the things she does. When I was a child, she made costumes for Halloween and tooth fairy pillows for each of my classmates the year all of our teeth seemed to fall out of our heads.

Recently, she attended a clay working class. Her pieces turned out well- even within the newness of the medium, her creativity shows through. She also created a pendant for me, a little tree carving. It is simplistic and beautiful. I admire trees and their quiet strength. I admire the same in my mother. Thanks again mom.