Monday, September 13, 2010

My Beer Addiction: A Confession

I love beer.  There's nothing better that sitting down to a perfectly cooked steak with a glass, or sitting down on a Sunday afternoon with a pint, or out on a hot patio with a cold bottle. Beer can compliment almost and situation as far as I'm concerned.

Now before I book myself into AA, let me clarify.  I love GOOD beer. I love unique, flavourful and masterfully crafted beer.  And I don't enjoy more than 1, maybe 2 at a time.  I'm not a beer guzzler, but a beer drinker.  It really is amazing the different styles and flavours brewmasters can create, some extreme and other subtle.  If you've ever been in my kitchen, you've seen my "Ring of Honour".  The cans and bottles of some of my favourite examples of beer from around the world.

Like all obsessions, this one can get pricey.  One Christmas my wife bought me a 'Beer-a-Day" calendar which featured a recipe every Sunday.  I had never even considered making my own beer before.  I have memories of my Dad's experience at a 'U-Brew" place.  That awful stuff in the green plastic bottles, I'm sure everyone's known someone who had offered to share some.  They must, God knows they couldn't drink it all alone.  I was hesitant but thought I'd give it a go. But it had to be done right.  That meant brewing at home, without pre-made kits. My friend Adam was into the idea too.  We thought a) we could split the cost of the equipment and make it easier to get started, and b) if it turned out really awful, we each only had to drink 1/2 a batch.  After a trial run at a U-brew place, we decided to go for it.

Brewing is not that difficult, in theory.  Get some sugar (from grains like malt) boil it, add some hops for flavour, cool it down, add some yeast and let it sit for a week or 2.  Of course in practice there is a lot more to it.  I'll spare you the details, but like anything I do, I researched my butt off, bought the gear and ingredients,  and were finally ready for brew day, about 18 months after I first had the idea to try this.

#1 question: How does it taste?
Well the first batch I was willing to admit we were going to do something wrong.  We did.  It was nothing major, nothing that really would affect the beer.  Cleanliness is probably the most important aspect of brewing, and we learned a few lessons, even being as cautions as we were.  For our first batch I was willing to lower expectations to "something drinkable".  As long as I could stomach it, I would be happy.  Well it turned out much better.  I can't describe how please I am with that batch.  Now that it's a few months older, it keeps improving.  I'd rank it somewhere above Good, but short of Great.  The downside is, I only have about 8 bottles left.

Now here is where the obsession really takes hold.  There are thousands of styles of beer, and hundreds that I can realistically brew at home right now.  Each with a delicious flavour or uniqueness to it that I am just dying to try.  These styles are sometimes available at the LCBO in the beers section, but some you just can't find unless you fly to Belgium and climb the mountain to a monastery.  This is my addiction to beer, a world of variety not found anywhere else, where skill and art merge to create something special that can truly be appreciated by all.


  1. let me know when you go to Belgium...I'm in! just maybe I'll stop short of the mountain climb.

  2. Will do! Beer trip with my sis!

    There is an Abbey there that will only sell to you in person, and maximum of 12 bottles. They will not allow it to be re-sold either, but you can buy it from a few places online for like $100 a bottle.