Something Brewing: First Ten Years
astro_nerd
Yes, it has been almost ten years since I brewed my first beer. I first got interested in it in 2002, studied it after an interview for a job at Cold Spring Brewing. That summer, I also went on a military tour of duty to Germany. It was a long time before I could drink "mass produced Pissner" again. In October 2003, I bought something from Wal-Mart that was really just a 1-gallon plastic bladder for fermenting. The beer was cidery and sour, and I eventually threw it away. Around Thanksgiving 2003, I made Oktoberfest with a kit from Baker's Hobby and Craft. Strong, but I liked it, and shared it with mom and dad. Through 2004, I learned about lagers and ales, they're fermented with different species of yeast and at different temperatures, about hops, various malts. I also made my first all-grain batch in 2004, and never went back to extract brewing. I was concerned about the cost and space requirements for things like a mash tun, so I learned to brew in a bag. The "bag" is a mesh bag for straining the wort from the spent grain. Christmas 2004, I made some beer for mom and dad for Christmas, one of which was a jalapeno cerveza.

2005, I had developed confidence and technique. I could mash with the typical 75% efficiency, or get the expected ppg (points per pound per gallon), and mash high gravity worts.

2006, I found a place called Northern Brewer, and became a regular customer there. December that year, I tried to make a lager, used frozen stairwell as temperature control, but it froze.

2007, after trying to brew a rye beer, and having the wort spoil from sitting too long, hiatus!

December 2011, I got back into it again, a thick brown ale called Mayan Apocalypse, because it was 2012, or almost that year. In February 2012, I made Dawn of a New Bak'tun. 2012 saw me taking off with it, like never before. I bought a keg, complete with carbon dioxide tank and regulator. I also bought a counter pressure bottle filler, so that I wouldn't have to use priming sugar. In December 2012, I re-brewed a beer for the first time, Mayan Apocalypse. It was kegged on December 20, 2012, the night before its namesake.

For many years, I wondered where civilization came from. Humans have been around for 2 million years, but only civilized for 10,000 of it. Kind of an epiphany! I explored things like Ancient Astronaut Theory, you can thank Georgio Tsoukalos for that. Then in January 2012, it occurred to me that civilization came to be at about the same time that beer was discovered. I also came to believe that it was not a coincidence. In school, I was taught, "Wheel, Fire, and Bread." Yes, it was agriculture, and cereal grain that took humans from caves to cities, but were they using the grain for bread or beer? I theorized all this, then found out that leading academic researchers beat me to it. "How Beer Saved The World" Beer -- 3000 years before anyone was baking bread, Beer built the first city and civilization, Sumerian language had 160 words pertaining to beer, more than the Eskimos had for "snow." Egypt's pyramids were built with beer. Beer led to things like writing, mathematics, the wheel, animal husbandry. Beer got us through the dark ages, and led to germ theory and refrigeration. Germ theory, Louis Pasteur was studying beer and wine, not milk. The pilgrims, on their way to Jamestown, Virginia, landed at Plymouth Rock because the ship ran out of beer. At about the same time that Chinese civilization came to be, they discovered a way to make something that was a wine, sake, and a beer all rolled up in one. The Inca, in what is now Peru and northern Chile, had a maize, or corn, beer. The Maya, in what is now Central America and southern Mexico, had a maize beer with chocolate in it. I often wonder if Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth was just a place where natives found out how to make drinkable water (ie, beer), that it was just a first brewery. Sumeria's offshoots, Assyria and Babylon, were also known for beer. Egypt, well, Egypt WAS beer. Then came the Greeks and Romans. Beer somewhat got put on the bottom shelf. Julius Caesar called it a fine drink but also said it was goaty and sweaty. Rome was about wine, but became familiar with beer through their interactions with the German people. Their myths about Thor, that thunder was Thor beating his kettle while brewing. Rome falls, then the Franks, Angles, and Germans get their day and their way. It took a public health crisis to bring beer back to the fore. People were getting sick all the time. If you drank water, it would come back up and take your last meal with it. But beer was healthy to drink. If you were sick, beer would make you better. It was the Germans, around the year 1000 CE, that first added hops to beer. Hops adds a bitter and herbal flavor to beer, but hops also has antibacterial properties, so they used it to preserve beer.

The axis of beer, starts in Plzen, Czech Republic, then Munich, then Cologne and Düsseldorf, then Brussels, London, then finally Dublin and Edinburgh.

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