Friday, March 1, 2013

Brendan: Noob

"Welcome to the inaugural posting of the Brew Crew. As I mentioned before, my idea is to get a team of people writing articles from time to time and get a larger spread of knowledge from different parts of the country, different aspects of brewing, and different personalities in general. This first post comes to you from my friend Brendan who is a fellow beer enthusiast who just got his first homebrewing kit. More importantly, he has a beard. Which already advances him to the higher ranks of brewing. Picture a younger looking John Maier. I hope you all enjoy the new section of Brew Crew posts! Welcome Brendan!"
-Brewer Gene

I’m no beer expert. I’m familiar with the basics of brewing: I know malt, hops, water, and yeast are involved. I know there’s a fermentation process that goes on for a certain period, and yeast convert sugars to alcohol. Yep, pretty basic understanding. I do have an appreciation of beer. I don’t know if I’m a beer snob, but I do know I like good beer. Brewing was not something I’d seriously considered. When my wife bought me a starter homebrew kit I smiled widely, but wasn’t entirely sure it was for me.

Several of my friends brew. These guys make quality beers that you could put up against any higher-end beer at the grocery store. Not only can they brew, they have brewing systems far beyond anything I could dream up or execute. Systems requiring serious engineering skills, schematics, soldering and the possibility of third degree burns. When they would explain the brewing process or some equipment they used or manufactured themselves, I got the general gist. But it was like Chuck Norris explaining to the Karate Kid how to block a roundhouse kick to the face and land a counter crotch-punch. They’re working on different levels.

So, brewing seems pretty complicated to me. My wife reminded me that I make my own greek yogurt. While some of the skills do translate, brewing seems to require better sterilization, more equipment, and way more variables that can be the difference between enjoying a homemade stout and homemade skunky beer. As a scientist by profession, I am hoping my basic knowledge of microbiology, chemistry, and math will pay off as I try to brew my first beer. At any rate, telling people you brew your own beer sounds way better than “Yeah, I can make yogurt.”

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