A few months ago, I decided I was going to start homebrewing. It was a decision that was, no surprise, inspired by a number of posts on Wil Wheaton’s blog (Read them here, here, here and here) when he started brewing. I had spent the latter half of 2011 thinking that I needed some new hobbies. My free time is very scarce, and I found myself always doing the same few things with it whenever I had some. It wasn’t so much that I was growing tired of these hobbies, just that I needed to expand a little. Then Wil started posting about beer.
I know – I write a lot about Wil and his wife. Mostly I do it for humorous purposes, as my “obsession” with Anne has become somewhat of a shtick between me, her and my readers. Anne and I communicate on a fairly regular basis at this point and I enjoy writing things that put her in the light of some almighty, untouchable entity of exotic awesomeness. (Which if you’ve witnessed her patience with Wil’s PUTTING ON THE RITZ video, you’d know is actually the truth.) The other times I mention Wil are purely out of respect and appreciation for his work, the way anyone likes to pass credit and kudos to someone who does things they enjoy.
Though I have yet to meet him in person, Wil strikes me as a truly stand-up guy who is passionate about creating great things and being a nice person. He puts so much excitement and commitment into everything he does that I find it impossible to not respect him. I’m a tremendous fan of Wil because of all the things he has made that I’ve come in contact with, whether it was books, TV, movies, blogs or podcasts, I can completely connect with his work and feel his passion coming through. I am very inspired by his general excitement for creativity and am grateful for him being a down-to-earth nice guy in the few instances he and I have exchanged words. He has a believable passion that I just don’t feel or even believe exists in too many people, and his interest in spreading that passion to encourage others is wonderful. So to him, I say thanks for going against what people expect of famous folks and for living up to Wheaton’s law. You’re a swell dude, and I’ll take my head out of your ass now.
So all that is what encouraged me to make beer. Not simply because I like beer and wanted my spare bedroom to be filled with barrels full of its bubbling and popping awesomeness that can scare my tiny dogs, but because the way Wil talked about it on his blog with such enthusiasm made it seem incredibly fun and like something I needed to try. It was also something I had never previously thought to do, so that made it doubly intriguing.
A few weeks ago I sent Wil a tweet asking for his recommendation on what would be “the” book to buy about homebrewing if he could narrow it down. He had just done a video tour of his office on ustream and mentioned his beer library, so I knew he had read many books on the subject. I didn’t really expect him to reply, as he was dealing with a Wil Wheaton vs. Paul & Storm show that was canceled that evening due to a power outage at their venue. Despite that, about five minutes later I got a tweet back suggesting “How to Brew” by John Palmer (which I’ve since discovered is pretty much the gold standard for homebrewers) and The Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian. I thought it was totally admirable of him to take a minute to make those suggestions to little old me in the midst of figuring out what to do about his canceled show that night. (Re: earlier ass-head insertion paragraph)
I bought the books, got the ingredients for the Cincinnati Pale Ale outlined by Palmer at the beginning of How to Brew, bought two 6 gallon plastic buckets, siphons, bottles and caps, a thermometer, a 5 gallon stock pot, a hydrometer, Star San, cleaners, a bottle brush, an airlock, a strainer, measuring cup and everything else I needed to get going. I stayed up this past Saturday night re-reading chapters on boiling worts, rehydrating yeasts and happy fermentation. I studied up on gravities and sugars and malts and read until I was too tired to retain information, even though I was too excited to sleep. I had dreams about buckets of murky brown liquid sending farts through a plastic airlock.
Ok, that sounds really gross.
When Sunday afternoon came and I had the kitchen cleaned and prepped, I moved everything in there to get started. I put it all out on the counter, had my camera ready to take pictures for the blog, and put the pot on the stove. Anne told me Wil tends to make a mess (to put it nicely) when he brews, so I was determined to do it as carefully and cleanly as possible.
Then I noticed something.
I was missing dry malt extract.
I can’t make Palmer’s Cincinnati Pale Ale without dry malt extract. And since the only homebrew store I’m aware of in my entire relative area is about 30 miles away and I had plans that evening, I didn’t have time to go there, get home, and still make the beer before it was time to leave. Ultra disappointment happened instead of nifty brew creation.
And thus, here we are. Lame and depressed. I will have to wait until next weekend before I have enough free time to brew. Meanwhile I will sit in my office and stare at all my nice, shiny brew stuff patiently waiting to be used. And weep. Weep sudsy tears of sorrow for the beer that should have been.
Soon, my friends. Soon we will make beer. Until then, try counting all the bumps and crevices in the skin on your elbows. That should keep you busy for a while. And for Christ’s sake, would it kill you to moisturize once in a while? Those things look like mango pits.