Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The One To Blame

His name is Dave and it is his fault that I am in this mess.

Years ago, my wife Peggy and I were struggling to find a way to get our friends together around the holidays. People were always tied up with family obligations. I am mostly Italian and Peggy is mostly Hungarian, so naturally we decided to begin hosting a yearly Oktoberfest party. After one of the early fests, my good friend Dave suggested that I brew the beer for next years party. I was teaching in Grand Rapids at the time and it just so happens that it is home to Michigan's premiere homebrew shop, Siciliano's Market. They were having their fall sale on homebrew kits so I went for it.

My first brew day was a nightmare. I had no idea what I was doing, I fumbled through the poor directions from the beer kit's manufacturer, made a massive mess in the kitchen, and cursed more than I should have. A couple of weeks later I had beer, bad beer, but beer nonetheless. It was an 'English Pale Ale' according to the kit, and it came out tasting like cardboard flavored beer.

I was thrilled.

I dove headlong into my new hobby. Within weeks I found the best source in homebrewing: The Brewing Network. Through their podcasts and website my beer rapidly improved, it even bordered on decent. I began judging beer and became a certified beer judge. I began entering competitions with vigor. When I first got into judging, I found that other members of the statewide beer scene did not have much interest in talking beer with me. I decided to try and earn my way into beer circles by winning medals in competition. At my peak, I was entering well over 100 entries a year in various local, state, and national competitions. I was a serious beer hoarder, rarely drinking my own beers, stashing them for anonymous judges.

For a long time having my beers poured for judges was a big thrill. Since I have shifted my focus to professional brewing, I have come to get more out of having my beers poured in front of friends.

Thanks Dave.

Drink good beer with good people!


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