I have denied it in the past, but it is true. I was talking to a pro brewer friend of mine at the Michigan Homebrew Festival and I was eager to pour my beers for him and get his feedback on them. I ended up getting advice that far exceeded the beverages in our glasses. He told me not to be intimidated.
There are a lot of things that I am afraid of. Fire, water, animals in general, heights, Thai food, and the WNBA. When it comes to beer my only fear has been when it comes to beer quality. Every time I pour a beer for someone, I try to play it cool, but I am feverishly scanning their face to gauge their beer drinking experience. I have grown confident in the fact that I can make solid beer at home. But translating my knowledge of brewing at home to the pro side has left me a bit intimidated. Sure the stainless steel of a 15 barrel brewhouse looks awesome, but I have asked the question of myself: Can I make it work?
This is the part where I get to be grateful for the people in my life and the friends I have made. A few years ago while beer judging I met Bill Gerds, now of Arbor Brewing. This summer as I was starting to feel a bit desperate for brewery experience, I shot Bill a message on Facebook and asked I could get some time in with him at Arbor. He agreed and has been a terrific mentor. We share a common brewing education: The Brewing Network. I listened to BN podcasts on my 140 mile commute, while Bill was listening to their podcasts and doing factory work. We have been taught to share brewing information with anyone who wants it, to be focused on the small stuff with the goal always being to make better beer.
Over the past few months I have gained a wealth of knowledge from Bill and his assistant brewer Mike. It is because of their kindness, and that of the Greff's, that I will enter my new enterprise with more confidence than I thought I would. Will it still be intimidating the first time I mash in on my new system? Sure. But now I know that I have some experience under my belt, and a network of people to support me along the way.
The next time you find yourself in Ann Arbor, head into Arbor Brewing. They have great beers, great food, and are good people.
Drink good beer with good people!