It was only a matter of time.
Before my dad passed away, we occasionally talked about the process of making beer. Both of us being fairly curious people, I knew one of us would eventually make beer from scratch. I considered buying him a brew kit for Christmas a few years ago. He later told me that he had the same thought.
When I found out his intention, I guess I took that as a nod of permission that I should go ahead and learn how, so $49 on eBay was my winning bid on a complete homebrew kit. When it arrived via UPS, I felt like a kid a Christmas. My wife, on the other hand, rolled her eyes at yet another one of my “hobbies.” Little did she know that she would enjoy the finished product just as much as me.
Making beer is a very rewarding activity. It’s not hard to create a brewed beverage in your own garage or basement that is equal to, and most times better than, any you can buy in the store. This can have a downside, because all your friends will want to drink your beer, so there’s less for you to enjoy.
My first batch was a “steam” style, a beer fermented at ale temperature with lager yeast, named for Anchor Steam brewed in San Francisco. Since it was a first attempt, we didn’t know if we were doing it right or wrong. This is the initial thing with homebrew; you put out a lot of effort and then cross your fingers. My advice to anyone just starting out is this; trust the process that your fellow man has been using for hundreds of years and keep everything clean, and it should turn out OK. If you find yourself worrying, you’ve already done something wrong.
I took a sample of the first steam ale to my dad for him to try. He said he really enjoyed it. Little did I know that would be the last time to see dad, as he passed away soon after that visit. When we went back home for the funeral, what did I find on a shelf out in his workshop? A little empty brown bottle with a computer printed label that said:
Steam Beer from Kevin.
That’s when it really sunk in. Dad would never get to see bread&cup. I would never get to serve him a cold one out of my tap. I would not get to see the pleasure on his face as he relished in the accomplishments of his son. This deepened my grief.
But it’s also that very thought that keeps me going through the difficulty of keeping this dream alive and seeing it come to fruition. Sure he will never see it, but in a sense, he already has. By believing in me the way he did, he left me with a confidence that he would be proud of anything I set out to do, no matter if it was getting a Master’s degree, going into vocational ministry, brewing beer or creating a restaurant.