Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I'd say alcohol was involved...if it had been invented yet.

Ever heard that old Joke? “Who was the first guy to milk a cow, and what did he think he was doing at the time?”

Well, I have a bit of a follow up to that idea. Who was the first person to actually drink the milk, knowing exactly where it came from?

“Hey, Steve! I just squeezed this white, slightly thick liquid out of those dangly things on that big animal over there! Grab a glass, tell me what it’s like!”

…No, that’s ok. I make a point of not drinking anything squeezed out of an animal.

The more you think about it, the stranger it gets. I mean, meat, I can see eating that. Hang around in the wild long enough and pretty soon you get the picture that everything eats everything else. But what about things like eggs? That’s almost as bad as milk. A flightless bird pushes a strange ovoid object out it’s stink-hole, you grab it, crack it open and find a bright yellow ball surrounded by sticky, clear goo. Not exactly the kind of thing to give you an appetite, right?

When you think about it, it’s amazing that the human race doesn’t live purely off meat, some of the less-strange looking fruits and plain old water.

Well, time to talk about what got me started on this topic.

A couple weeks ago, Sunny and I were Christmas shopping and I spotted a home brewing kit. After 2 weeks of reminding her that I moved 3500 miles to be with her and this would be my fourth Christmas away from my family…she told me to shut the fuck up and would buy me the thing if I’d keep my trap shut for fifteen minutes.

Now, my dad used to brew his own beer when I was a kid and I used to love helping him do it. (I mean ‘help’ in the sense that all five year olds ‘help’. I’d basically get in the way, ask way too many questions, be a huge distraction and generally retard the whole process).

The way I saw it was that my dad basically got to play with a huge chemistry set for a few hours (I used to watch him siphon the stuff from one tank into another and despite the hundred explanations I got as to how the liquid could flow up a pipe before flowing downwards to the other tank…I just did what all five year olds do…I didn’t listen and decided that it was magic).

So, long story short, my dad got to play with a magic chemistry set… I had some vague idea that there was maybe some kind of drink made at the end of the process but, of course, it usually took weeks or months to ferment and by then I’d totally lost interest. Plus, the fact that I’d actually tasted a sip of beer by then, I’d decided I was never, ever, even under threat of pain or death, going to drink it again.

Well, fast forward to today, and there I was with my own magic chemistry set. Of course, mine wasn’t as impressive as my Dad’s. Dad’s had two big tanks, a magic hose that makes beer flow uphill, as well as an impressive 10-gallon keg.

Mine consisted of a 2 gallon keg, a tin of brown goo, assorted sachets of powders and a butt-load of plastic bottles. It was a little underwhelming to say the least. However, an entire side of the box featured a gigantic picture of a simply ecstatic looking Asian gentleman holding what looked like a six-gallon frosty mug of beautiful amber beer.

Hell, if the Asian dude looked that happy, it’s gotta be good right?

Well, (as is always the way) I’d used the single sachet of sterilization agent and got everything nice and clean when I remembered the number one rule to beer-making.

Do Not, Under Any Circumstances, Use Tap Water

That’s the number one reason that most home-brew tastes like ass. The chlorine taste throws everything off. It’s not too bad if you’re making a really dark, flavorful ale like Stout…but for lager, you might as well drink you own wee-wee.

My problem was, it was too late, I was committed. I could imagine the look on Sunny’s face if I told her we’d have to go out and find a place that sells brewing sterilizer. She’d laugh in my face and it would probably be next Christmas before I got to try it out.

Luckily, I had a brainwave and grabbed the Brita Pitcher from the fridge. I use it mainly to filter water to make coffee with it, and the difference in the taste of the coffee is amazing…so despite the fact it took about half an hour to filter enough water, I was in good shape.

I dissolved the ‘booster’ (read ‘sugar with a bit of other stuff’) into the water, brought it to the boil, took it off the heat and opened the can of brown goo.

Now, the brown goo is extra sugar and hops and all that stuff which gives the beer its taste and lets the yeast do its work.

Let’s just say I remembered the smell from my dad’s brewing sessions…but every time you smell it, it punches you in the face. It smells horrible. Think of really old cheese stuffed into a sweaty marathon runner’s sock… that’s been left out in the sun for a few days.

Anyway, I put the brown goo in the water, mixed it up and put it in the keg. After adding the required amount of water on top of that, I dropped in my sachet of yeast.

As I stirred the smelly, brown mess…I had to think to myself…

What was the first person to do this actually thinking?

I mean, seriously. We all know that this…substance…that looks and smells like the contents of a champion cheese-eater’s toilet (on a day he had explosove diarrhea) will eventually turn into a crisp, delicious beverage that’s just perfect for a hot summer’s day…but the first guy didn’t know that!

I mean, think of the other options! Apples, berries and all other kinds of fruit are delicious, you could make a drink from them! I can see it happening:

Medieval Paulius gets a buttload of apples, juices them and puts the juice in a barrel. Over time the juice ‘goes off’, but with nothing else available he drinks it anyway and gets drunk. “Hey! This isn’t too shabby!” He thinks, and over time realizes that by adding extra sugar and a bit of yeast, he can make it stronger.

However, the beer guy thought:

“Ok,I’m thirsty and this water isn’t cutting it. Llet’s see, I have some barley. Why don’t I soak this in water, let it germinate, then dry it out and roast it! That sounds like a good flavoring. Now, I’ll boil the crap out of it, along with some of these hops. Yeah, flowers and roasted grain! That’s the ticket. Add a bit of sugar… hmmm….Ok, this smells like a tramp’s codpiece... I know, I’ll put some yeast on the top! That’ll fix it!”

A Week Later:

“Hmm, the yeast seem to have multiplied and there’s a thick layer of scum on the top…and it still smells like a tramp’s codpiece. It also appears that the yeast is eating the sugar in there and pissing in my drink. I know, I’ll leave it for another few weeks and see if it magically fixes itself.”

Seriously. If I had a ‘great drink idea’ and got one whiff of the devilish concoction when I first started to mix it, it’d go down the drain.

Anyway, my first solo attempt at brewing, the beer that has been dubbed “Paulius’ Olde Perculiar” should be ready in a couple of weeks, although it says the longer you ‘condition’ it, the better…so I figure I’ll break it out and try it on my Birthday (January 23rd) and let you know how it turns out. Wish me luck!


Sunny said...

Okay, you hellion.
FIRST of all, I did NOT tell you to 'shut the fuck up and would buy me the thing if I’d keep my trap shut for fifteen minutes'.

God, I look like a complete SHREW in your blog sometimes!

And the only reason I was so adamant about NOT buying you that brewing lit was because I was going to BUY it FOR you tomorrow for one of your Christmas Prezzies. AND the lazer scope you went ahead and ordered today.

You make it sooooo difficult to be able to buy anything for you and keep it a secret.

Men are SO impatient!

OzzyC said...


Saffyre said...

LMAO - First of all I was giggling uncontrollably whilst wondering atthe questions you posed...but add to that the image of you trying to make you own beer. Too funny. I bet you managed to make a huge mess!

marie said...

i wish you and whomever you decide to try it out on the best of luck...should be an experience.