This year marks the tenth one that I have spent brewing beer (and later, mead and cider) at home. When I first moved out West, it was because I wanted to be a professional brewer, own a pub. Big ideas I had for my brewery. Grand ones indeed. So I packed up, drove my little Toyota Tercel for three days toward the sunset, ended up in Eugene, and started culinary school.
You see, when I lived in Des Moines, the craft beer scene had yet to arrive, and my first exposure to it was six packs of Fat Tire and Blue Moon purchased for outrageous amounts of money at the local Hy-Vee. How far my palate has come since those days. Naturally, I assumed the rest of the country was suffering the same fate. I was coming to Oregon to help alleviate said suffering. Little did I know, as this was far before smartphones, plus internet service was still paid by the hour, so one could say my research was…insufficient. Needless to say, I arrived in Oregon to find ye olde Saccharomyces cerevisiae being utilized in ways my Midwestern taste buds had not experienced.
Yes, I was a shade shaken. Finding that owning a brewery might not be my path to fame and fortune, I decided that I would make my own. For pleasure. Fortunately, one of my housemates taught me how to brew. I started at the apprentice stage (doing sanitation), and would help every time he would invite me to assist, absorbing every bit of knowledge I could.
Fast forward to present day. I have brewed over 200 batches (I assume the number is higher, however, I haven’t kept terribly thorough records and cannot confirm). I have made amazing beers, horrid beers. Bottles have exploded and actively fermenting batches have blown their tops (sometimes splashing as far as the ceiling). I switched from extract brewing to all grain. I keep learning each time.
But lately, (well, within the last couple of years “lately”) I been rethinking what I really want to brew. There are hundreds of breweries in Oregon. Breweries that make an astounding array of amazing Pale Ales, IPAs, Stouts, Porters, and the like. This has gotten me to thinking. I never started brewing because it is cheaper to make your own. A common misconception. What you save in ingredients, you easily spend in time doing amateur zymurgy. It’s a wash, and I can easily pick up great beer for a reasonable cost at multiple locations that Skipper and I pass on the commute home each day.
In the last bit of time, I have become rather enamored of the more “wild” end of the brewing spectrum. Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus. These are the wee beasties that I want to get to know better. Plus, a vast majority of my fermenters now carry a badge stating “I AM A BRETT FERMENTER”. And I derive far more pleasure taking a good, deep sniff off a fermenting sour that I ever did from an IPA.
So that’s the news. I am going all wild (save for the two fermenters that will be used for mead). Becoming a Sourpuss. So, pucker up Buttercups, and join me on the ride.
Cheers, and have a complex and interesting week!