The first Friday of each month brings together beer bloggers around a common topic under the banner of The Session. This month Pintwell hosts, giving us the topic Homebrewing and How Homebrewing Impacts Your Relationship with Beer a.k.a. “I Made This”:
The idea of this session is how making something changes your relationship with it. For example, when I first started homebrewing I wasn’t a big fan of lagers. After learning to brew I realized how complex and particular lagers were and I came to love them because of that.
I have come to learn two things from homebrewing, and now commercial brewing.
It’s not just beer
My journey towards mindful beer drinking has gone on for quite a while, and still continues. When I started drinking beer I would, well, drink it. Buy a six or 12 pack, open one, drink from the bottle. I poured the bottles into a glass for a bit, but then stopped because I didn’t feel like handling the extra dishes.
Once I started brewing, though — and I don’t think I’ll ever know exactly what caused that flash of motivation1 — I realized how much existed in a beer. The color, the clarity (though that never bothered me much), the aroma. Drinking from a bottle kills the aroma, man!
I no longer saw it as beer. I saw it as beer, or maybe Beer, possibly Beer, but in any case it no longer existed simply as a beverage. It had become a hobby, a craft, possibly an art, an obsession. I read about it, I wrote about it, I talked about it.
Beer has a history, a provenance, a certain air of importance.
It’s just beer
I’ve been talking with a friend who has just started homebrewing, answering the sort of questions a fledgling brewer has: how long should I age it before drinking it? Does a mead need more than six months? What bottles should I use?
My answers to him showed me the core of where I currently find myself, beer philosophy-wise: it’s just beer. Especially as a homebrewer, you can always make more. As a homebrewer I can pretty much guarantee you will make more. Will it get better with age? Maybe. It might get worse, or better and then worse, or a wobbly sort of quantum fluctuation if you’ve used Brett. I really only care about how it tastes now. Does it taste good? Drink it, then make (or buy) more.
Maybe it would taste better in six months. But I have a long history of “saving” things for later, only to have them go bad. For some reason a carton of Whoppers from my preteen years comes to mind.
I’m not saying you should never age beer. I kept the bottle of NAH barleywine for years before sharing it with the Risk Legacy group and am glad I did. I have a bottle of KBS in my basement: I suppose I’ll get to drinking that eventually too. I am saying I reject the cult of beer that places it on some sort of holy pedestal. If trading bottles and chasing the coolest new release makes you happy, godspeed. I am made happy by having a beer and then drinking that beer.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
- Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”
Obviously this means it came from a mind ray sent by the Bavarian Illuminati ↩