I have given in! Fully, totally, wholeheartedly given in to beer. No more, “Oh, I don’t really like beer” stories here. Sam has been brewing beer at home for about a year now. He currently has a beer brewing itch that he is scratching furiously almost every weekend. What am I supposed to do? Let him take over the kitchen?
I have never liked beer. Not in high school, not in college, and not for the past two years. Perhaps it was my rigid christian upbringing? The fact that beer is my father’s beverage of choice? The desire to be different from Oklahoma’s beer drinking masses? Well, I’ve got news for myself. Beer is in, and brewing beer even more so. There is a reason for this, as I am just now discovering.
Knowing of my natural prowess in the kitchen and garden, Sam has been asking for my “help” for the past year. To be honest, I have not been interested. I mean, just what could I contribute as a non-beer drinker? My interest was sparked, however when I discovered Dogfish Head, which really blew my concept of beer out of the water, as I am sure it has down for many. I then began tasting small amounts of the beers Sam brews, as well as some of the ones he wants to emulate. Then one day, after weeks of begging, Sam convinced me to help him brew a ginger-honey beer. All I did was mince the ginger and keep the wart from boiling over. Weeks later, we bottled it, and weeks after that we tasted it. I am hooked. The subtle ginger flavor, the nutty aftertaste, the carbonation without the sweetness of soda. I even served our ginger-honey beer at a small dinner party with tempeh curry and samosas. It was delightful, and voila! A new niche has formed: Pairing beer with healthy farm-grown meals.
Sam and I would like to start brewing beers in our own way, sourcing local ingredients, growing ingredients, sprouting our own grains, and everything else. The folks at the beer store will have a fit! The process of preparing our own ingredients will be difficult, but we are dedicated. We recently made a pumpkin ale with one of our pumpkins. A small step, but it feels good knowing one of the ingredients is ours. It smells delicious, and I am currently working on a meal pairing for it. We also made a hard cider from apples from Billiam’s Liberty View Farm, that we pressed ourselves. The cider is currently slowly carbonating in our closet. Knowing that we can control the quality of our own ingredients is very exciting. It is exactly what we strive for in every inch of our lives. We trust ourselves and our small community to deliver the standard we believe in.
My beer making journey is now in the beginning phase, or as I am thinking of it, “The Tasting Phase.” In any new endeavor, I like to immerse myself with knowledge of the subject. With brewing that means tasting high quality, complex beers and learning about the processes that lead to their wonderful flavors. Sam and I purchased several beers that fall into the category of quality, complex beers, across the beer flavor spectrum. We would like to make a lambic, which is an open fermented beer, as opposed to other beers which use cultivated strains of yeast to ferment. Since we ferment all kinds of things using wild yeast and bacteria, this is an obvious choice. Brewing a lambic would allow use to use mostly local ingredients, and a culture captured from the air, instead of a factory. The problem is, neither of us has ever tasted a lambic before. We also read about oak-barrel aged beers recently and were both intrigued by the descriptions. So we went to the beer store and purchased some lambics and oak-barrel aged beers as well as other intriguing brews.
In the following weeks I will dedicate posts to the individual beers we selected and the meals I have created to pair with them. I never imagined beer could be so much fun.