A few weeks ago, I was ready to list all my homebrewing stuff on Craigslist.
The summer has been a hot and humid one, and with a young baby in the house who can crawl faster than I am often willing to run, my energy level has been low. Coupled with a commitment to exercise and weight loss, I found myself with empty kegs, unmade beer kits, and a kitchen that was rarely clean enough to justify dirtying it further with the detritus of brewing.
Anyway, I soldiered on. I wanted to have some beer ready for a late August birthday party, so I brewed. The first batch felt like I was wading through the malt syrup for miles, rather than boiling it with spring water and sprinkling in hops. Everything seemed to take more effort. Up the stairs from the basement with the supplies. On the stove. Down the stairs because I forgot the thermometer. Might was well use the extra sanitizer I just mixed to prep a keg. Back down the stairs. The pot meanwhile nearly boiled over. Repeat again two nights later, then clean, clean, clean and listen for the telltale glugging sound as fermentation takes off. Then forget about the brew for a few weeks until it's time to keg. At the end of both brew sessions, I was sweaty, sticky, exhausted, and not looking forward to the 5am wakeup that Austen was sure to grace us with in the morning.
This weekend I kegged the two beers. I didn't even check the gravity of the Cream Ale. It smelled good, like beer. Good enough. The Belgian Wit got a gravity test. I put a little of it in the test jar and floated the hydrometer. 1.011. Nice. I let it settle a bit, then tasted. Amber malt, hop-bitter and a little hop-aromatic. Fresh. Bitter orange and even the coriander came through at the end. Warm, foggy, flat- and delicious. I made this. 10 gallons of beer I made in gleaming kegs, chilling and carbonating.
I mentally deleted my Craigslist posting.
My priorities have changed. I don't drink nearly enough beer to be brewing it gallons at a time. Given the choice of an hour session on the rollers or an hour session doing brewing chores, I'm going to ride most of the time. Between nighttime meetings for work, early wakeups, and weekends that are more draining than restorative- seriously, Kate and I have decided that there should be a "new baby workout." Lie down on the floor. Get up. Run to the next room. Sit down. bend over and pick something up that weighs 20 pounds. Get up. Over and over again. All Day Every Day. Repeat for the rest of your life. -something has had to give and it has been homebrewing. But the joy and excitement is still there, and the wonderful thing is that much of what you need in brewing is time to let things brew, to let sediments settle out and to let the yeast do their thing and clean up after the big party they tend to throw in the presence of several pounds of quality malt. I have that kind of time.