Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hot town, saison in the city

When you're a homebrewer, everyone wants to hear about what you do. This is one of the great things about homebrewing as a hobby.
Not only are friends, family, and strangers eager to taste the latest batch of ales, but they are endlessly curious about how the entire process of brewing works. The response that I get when I tell people that I make my own beer is so overwhelmingly positive, friendly, and warm, that I have on occasion responded to the question "So, what do you do?" with "I brew my own beer." Of course, I could be saying something like "I'm a college math professor," since that's what my formal education and training have enabled me to do. But, beer ranks so far above math in most conversational settings. I've probably heard "I was never any good at math" a hundred times from new acquaintances, but I have not once heard anyone say "I was never any good at beer." (Some people claim to not like beer, but they're wrong and just don't know it.) At the very least, the conversation takes longer to change to a new topic when I open with beer than it does when I open with math.

Two of my friends wanted to learn about the brewing process I use, so I invited them over to help me brew a batch yesterday. (The recipe would be an American pale ale had I used an American ale yeast, but I opted for a Belgian saison yeast instead. This strain of yeast is less sensitive to the warmer temperatures.)  This was the first batch I have brewed since moving to LA and I was a bit nervous to brew in the new apartment because of one thing: an electric range. I had previously been brewing with a gas range, which is much easier to work with in terms of temperature control and preventing boil overs. I don't even have much experience cooking with an electric range, let alone brewing. I wasn't even sure if the heating elements would be able to get a pot of wort boiling. The last thing I wanted was for my friends to spend their afternoon watching me scramble in the kitchen as I attempt to wipe up the sticky syrupy mess from a boil over before it coats my counter tops in a malty candy shell. 

I kept in mind Charlie Papazian's mantra (Relax. Don't Worry. Have a Homebrew.), made a mini-mash with about 3 gallons of water (rather than 4), kept a watchful eye on the brewpot, and everything worked out just fine. In fact it worked so well that my friends want to come back next weekend when I rack this ale into a carboy for the secondary fermentation and have asked me to direct them in brewing the Irish stout I have planned.

1 comment:

  1. Nice, it sounds like a regular cadre of folks is forming around your brewing activities in L.A. And you've got my thinking that maybe I should talk about my hobbies rather than my profession when people ask what I do...