Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Late One Night and the Joys of Homebrewing

Here I am, sitting awake in the wee hours of the morning. I imagine that it's only partially due to the coughing and hacking and intermittent throbs of a ninja headache that slips in and out of the shadows at will.

The other reason I'm awake?

Unexplainable restlessness? No, I'm sure there's a reason. I just can't put my finger on it quite yet. Who knows, maybe in the grand scheme of things all threads of this evening's unwoven tapestry have been engineered to lead me here, to post this for you.

Yeah, probably BS, but it sure sounded poetic -- didn't it?

I believe I caught this bug at my nephew's birthday party, though it does seem a bit strange that I'm the only one showing symptoms so far. I feel a bit better though, so at least I can hope to get feeling normal again soon.

It sure has hurt to talk, then again, maybe that's an improvement for some. Ha ha! I know my wife must be enjoying the break since I haven't been going on and on about the batch of beer I've been brewing.

The funny thing is that I've never been a big beer drinker. But I love the science of the process and I'm simultaneously taking on the goal of making a perfectly drinkable soda that the entire family can enjoy. That's the end game for me. So far the first batch of Ginger Ale turned out too bitter. I've got the next batch in the fridge now and it'll be ready in two days for testing. Here's hoping for something drinkable!

Oh, I'll keep brewing beer for a while... I've enlisted a buddy to join in the process with me and I think I've chosen well. Whereas I am not an avid beer drinker, he is. I figure this is smart for a few different reasons. First, we need the bottles back after each batch before we can reach the bottling phase of the next. Second, there's no way I'm drinking two and a half cases of beer in a week - especially if it doesn't taste very good (as is the case with some learning processes). Third, with a partner I don't have to worry about footing the entire cost of it just to enjoy the experience of doing it.

What I've found most interesting though, hasn't necessarily been the beer-making process, but more the history of the process. It used to be that all brews were home-brews. The same goes for sodas, which were often used as a sort of herbal tonic and treated in some ways like medicine by many homesteading families. A big difference, though, was that these beverages lacked the sheer amount of sugar or sugar substitutes that we've seen with modern-day sodas and they were most often made with ingredients that were readily foraged.

It was also very interesting to me to find out just how many people have taken these beverages back from the hands of large businesses and have started making their own sodas at home. Sure, it's more effort, but by making your own soda you can limit the amount of sweeteners and even the type of sweeteners used. Otherwise, if you want a coke made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup in the States, you've got to look in the specialty aisle and pick up a glass bottle made in Mexico. Of course, it comes with that specialty food price tag as well.

I've got this Friday off. So far the weather looks pretty dismal this week but we've got plans to take the kids to the pool sometime this weekend. I'm also looking forward to climbing out of this mental fog by then so I can get some good writing time in. With any luck, I'll be able to enjoy a nice homemade Ginger Ale while I'm at it!

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