Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't make anal retentive beer

Last night we went to a free homebrew class at BeerCraft. Amazing. It was run by an enormous old dude named Griz, who held forth from the comfort of an armchair. The shop itself has bins of hops and grain and barley everywhere, and lots of equipment that looks straight out of a chemistry lab. They threw down some folding chairs, handed out beers, and that was the class. Griz wore stained overalls, had long gray hair, and had to stop and wheeze every once in a while. I would not have been surprised if he had expired right there.

Not that he was not otherwise hearty - he was. He talked for two and a half hours, about making beer, about his "squeeze" (his lady friend of 47 years - "no one got married, but no one left"), about the importance of doing something well but not working too hard at it. He reminded us many times not to make anal retentive beer. We shouldn't think he was New Agey or something, he hates that shit, "but if you don't enjoy the process of making the beer, it's going to be crappy beer."

Many of his gems involved his age or his size. We learned "the fat boy" beer brewing method - "You want to see the easiest way to do something? Watch a fat man do it."

He assured us our beer was going to be good, but even if it wasn't, we just had to serve our friends good beer for the first few rounds, then give them the crappy stuff - they'll think it's great. "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit."

All evils of modern life - gentrification, cell phones, stress - were compared to "keeping a turd in your hat". After a while, you forget it's there, but it's still shit. Or something.

Finally, he explained that beer - or any creative, involving pursuit - should pull on your "bullshit choke chain". For example, a long time ago he was sitting on a park bench in Amsterdam while unbelievably high off "the good stuff" ("it was like running naked through a field of the best ganja and then rolling the sticky stuff off you") and a Trappist monk sat down next to him. They talked about beer, the bullshit choke chain got pulled, and Griz spent 39 days in the monastery, learning to brew Belgian style beer.

He also told us how to cook the wort properly without using a thermometer, how to sanitize your carboy, and all that practical stuff. But mostly it is the rude jokes that I will remember.

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