|You're not fooling anyone, photographer— you sprayed |
the glass with water for that refreshing, weekends-
pint-out-of-the-ice-chest effect... we're getting off topic.
Here: Recently I've taken up the hobby of home-brewing beer. Influenced by a friend who is a brewer, I bought a little beginner's homebrew kit, and, since the beginning of the year, have made up several batches— a brown ale, a British pale ale, a Scottish ale, a dry Irish stout. Beer geeks tend to obsess over technical minutiae, which makes it an intimidating thing to take up at first, but the process can actually be quite straightforward, and forgiving, and requiring minimal equipment. And I'm finding that it actually adds a lot of quality of life.
Here are the parameters of what I have to work with. When it comes to beer, I have a number of very minor-but-annoying, competing, neuroses:
1) I do like beer.
2) I like being well-stocked for the foreseeable future... with anything. I don't want to worry about running out of stuff. Whenever I've played RPG-type computer games, I end up hoarding potions, “health”, bullets, whatever... that's the kind of person I am.
3) I'm a cheap bastard. I don't want to be spending a few bucks for daily beverages, and I don't like thinking about what something costs while I'm drinking it. Thrift is a pleasure-enhancer.
4) I don't want to have to decide if today is a special enough occasion to drink one of the few, good, relatively expensive (like, $3-4) beers in my fridge.
5) I don't like having to conserve my beverage while I eat. 16 oz. is good, an imperial pint is better. With a normal 12 ouncer, I'm always running out by the end of a meal.
6) I don't like getting intoxicated, or even, really, what most people would consider “buzzed.” Don't really need it. I'm usually set for alcohol consumption after half a beer.
I can satisfy each of those quibbles by home-brewing a lot of low-to-moderate alcohol British isles-type “session” beers, which are inexpensive to make, and can be consumed in reasonable quantity without getting smashed. And which are not particularly cheap or massively available commercially in the US. So I get to have a perfect 16-20 oz. serving of an inexpensive (about $.75-1.00/pint), delicious, special beer every day, without turning into a drunk, and with no danger of running out.
If you do decide to take up this hobby, for $90 you can get a beginner brewing kit from Northern Brewing, which includes the basic gear you need, plus a recipe ingredient kit, and instructional DVD. That plus a good-sized stainless steel or enameled brew kettle will get you started— I found one at a hardware store for $15. The nice thing about NB's kits is that they have really good documentation, written to be understood by jerks like me who have no idea of what they're doing. They say that if you can follow the directions on a box of macaroni and cheese, you can brew beer, and they're basically right. You'll also want to pick up a copy of Charlie Papazian's Complete Joy Of Home Brewing, which is the bible of this sort of thing.