I don’t exactly have a reputation for “getting my hands dirty”. I’m not a “take it apart and put it back together” kind of guy. It’s not that I’m totally against the idea or that I’m disinterested. I’ve actually thought about buying a decent guitar and swapping out the pick ups and the tuning pegs, but I just haven’t had the stars align to where I’ve had the time/resources to embark on that journey. I enjoy a lot of things in life, and I like to understand as much about those things as I can. My friends definitely understand that about me, which is why they’re surprised that I haven’t tried brewing beer yet, since tasting different kinds of beers has been my M.O. lately.
Bruce decided to buy me a beer brewing kit for my birthday and while it arrived a couple week ago, I haven’t tried my hand at brewing beer. It’s not that I don’t have any interest in it, it’s because it’s been busy and extremely hot outside. I don’t know a whole lot about brewing, but I know that most beers need to be brewed in a semi-cool temperature, so I’ve been hesitant to start brewing in the summer. Brewing takes a long time – 3 weeks to ferment and then another 3 weeks to bottle, so I don’t want to screw it up. If I have to wait 6 weeks to see the fruits of my labor, I want to make sure I’ve done everything in my power to make sure its done right. I don’t have all the time in the world. It’s not like I’m in college anymore.
During my freshmen year, I lived next door to a guy named Sheldon. He was a Biology major and while he was the same age as me, he looked a lot older since he had a full blown goatee. He would take advantage of his “older” appearance by going to the grocery store to buy alcohol without getting carded. He would usually buy a bottle of wine, a baguette of french bread, and a couple of other things, so he would seem less suspicious than if he were to show up to the cashier with a handle of Jack Daniels and a 2 liter bottle of coke. Eventually they started to ask him for his ID, and he would tell them he left it in his car and he’d leave. He knew he couldn’t go to the cashiers that carded him previously so after about a month, his options all dried up and we no longer had access to booze.
Instead of giving up, Sheldon decided to get creative about accessing wine. He decided that if he couldn’t buy it, he would try to make it. So here we were, in a freshmen dormitory, with carafes filled with grape juice, yeast and whatever else he thought went into wine. While he did some research on the internet, and while I’m sure his science background helped, I’m pretty sure the ingredients he needed to make wine weren’t available in the grocery store. I’m absolutely positive that’s where he was getting his goods, since I don’t remember him getting anything shipped to him as far as grapes were concerned. I didn’t say anything about it. I was just a lowly film major and if it all ended up working out, I didn’t want to get cut out of any wine with my negative attitude.
Eventually the day came where the wine was ready and Sheldon had his over in his room for a tasting. I will give him credit for buying french bread and oil/vinegar to “classy” up the event, but all in all, his wine was a failure. I didn’t drink enough of it to confirm whether it had become alcoholic or not since it tasted like barbecue sauce and not like wine. We appreciated his valiant effort but in the end, it was all for naught. He wasted a lot of time and money trying to make his own wine in his dorm room, and had nothing to show for it. He ended up dumping it all, since it was undrinkable and he decided to give up on his dream of turning his dorm room into a winery.
Obviously, with my home brewing kit, I’ve been given detailed instructions, and ingredients that have been tested, so I probably won’t end up making beer that tastes like barbeque sauce. I can look at Sheldon’s failure as a cautionary tale, but I can also look back on his experience with envy. He threw caution in the wind, and swung for the fences at at time in our lives where there was little recourse (he ended up getting kicked out of school, but that’s because he was playing too much Everquest). In my home brewing process, I won’t have that same thrill, but at the same time, I probably won’t fail, and at this point in my life, that’s probably a healthy thing for me.