For the most part, I brew by myself. I find it really therapeutic to organize all my ingredients and prep my kitchen and then spend the better part of an evening measuring, mashing, boiling, hopping, cooling, racking and pitching. I’ll usually listen or watch something random like fantasy football podcasts, Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart during the work and read something during the waiting periods of the brew day (latest favorites: Ready Player One, World War Z, and of course Stan Hieronymus’ For The Love of Hops).
Don’t get me wrong, I love brewing with other people too, especially when they’re interested in learning about all the nerdy science that goes into it. But I’ve also had some negative experiences brewing with others. This usually happens when they either want to do things their way (and ONLY their way), or they start out interested and after 30 minutes they get distracted by some shiny object and start texting or something while I finish up our brew day and end up cleaning everything by myself. Fun times.
So when my wife said she wanted to design a beer with me, I was a little hesitant. We were reading in our living room when out of the blue she said she wanted to make a Dia De Los Muertos-inspired beer. In was surprised, but didn’t let on as I asked her to continue.
She then went into a long speech about the history of the holiday and how we might successfully create a beer in celebration of the day.
Before I could walk her through my hesitations of brewing together, she already started going into the different ingredients and methods she wanted to use to brew the best beer possible.
I decided right there and then I’d get out of both our way and just do my best to provide her with the resources to make this dream beer of hers a reality. We sat down, I opened up some brewing software, and we designed our Dia De Los Muertos Chocolate Chile Porter recipe.
We (she) knew we wanted to incorporate a mole sauce-type flavor into it, which means chile peppers, chocolate, nuts and a LOT of spices. In fact, most mole sauces include 30+ ingredients. No joke. We also knew we wanted it to be a big beer (high ABV) for two reasons: 1) So it would age well and we could start drinking it around late October (when Dia De Los Muertos is usually celebrated in the US), and 2) Because we wanted to design it to be shared amongst friends and family during all of the fall/winter holidays.
Honestly, by the end of that evening, I was more excited about that beer than I was about any of the other beers I already had fermenting. Two days later, not only had we bought all of the ingredients already, but we’d already finished brewing.
That was fast. I’ve had beers I’d dreamed about, planned out and didn’t brew for months. This one went from the drawing board to the fermenter in two days. Wow.
Long story short: brewing with others can be even more rewarding than brewing by yourself. Even if you love your alone time and love brewing alone, people can sometimes surprise you.