~5.5% ABV bottled
I heard all sorts of negativity and skepticism from my friends.
“You’re really going to do it?!”
“Heh, you got bigger balls than me, pal.”
“That’s disgusting! I can’t believe you.”
“Seriously–DON’T. You’ll only regret it.”
And what was this scorn and derision directed at? My goal to one day take down a fifteen pound cheeseburger? Maybe a newfound sploshing curiosity? Perhaps my belief that should I ever get married I would like to sport a tailed tuxedo?!
I was simply going to drink a homebrewed beer mailed to me from a Minnesotan semi-stranger.
It’s odd, we aren’t amazed when a normal person, a so-called “layman,” cooks a halfway decent meal. We aren’t floored by an average Joe that can fix their own car, paint their own house, write their own hilarious and informative vice blog. But brew their own beer?! Good lord! Why that’s impossible!
You’d need a giant facility, a label-making machine, probably a forklift or two, tons of weird ingredients, and all sorts of beefy bearded guys like in those Sam Adams commercials to stir giant vats.
I will admit, even to me, it’s an impressive feat, almost bordering on alchemy. Why does it seem so impossible to believe that some normal dude, with some normal job, can, as a hobbyist, just for kicks, in the evenings and weekends, make a fermented liquid that is drinkable, enjoyable, and gets one drunkable?
I suppose because we simply don’t understand the concept of beermaking. We don’t come home from elementary school to find our mother pitching some yeast. We don’t know any kids whose dads can make a mash. We don’t know what hops look like or what terms like “carboy” and “original gravity” mean.
It seems so much like prohibition-era bootlegging to just make your own beer. It reminds people of their alcoholic uncle that had to whip up moonshine in the garage washing machine while his wife was at bingo. But that isn’t what modern homebrewing is like in the least. There are plenty of skilled craftsman making beer every bit as good as what is sold commercially, better in most cases. You aren’t surprised by an amateur chef that makes brilliant meals, nor should you be surprised by an amateur brewer that does likewise*. Remember, they aren’t necessarily amateur cause they don’t have the skills. They’re amateur only because they don’t get paid.
Nevertheless, my friends were still leery. Still somewhat skeptical. Still thinking it possible I’d get a tainted–if not poisoned!–batch of beer.
Seriously, I have to say, if The Captain was going to poison me, it was a genius and highly disciplined stroke on his part. Begin reading my blog months ago, befriend me over e-mail and Facebook, frequently comment on my blog, create his own beer blog which I enjoy reading and commenting on, orchestrate several successful beer trades with me, pretend to be a homebrewer, and then finally send me his “prized” homebrew (dum, dum, dum!) in order to kill me! Diabolical!!!
Sadly, the fact is, I’m just not important enough to be assassinated. Any how, after my foodtaster Stevie sipped the stout and didn’t die, I dug in.
The Captain’s Oatmeal Coffee Stout opened with an impressive pop from his own bottling job. It smelled fantastic. Like a Guinness Extra Stout. Poured dark like a Coca Cola with a decent half-finger creamy head. Taste is nice. No hops I can detect, just clean and very drinkable. Using mathematical homebrewing equations I still don’t understand, The Captain estimated the ABV to be around 5.5%. But I got drunk at about an 8% level. Perhaps it was because I had a light dinner or it might have been due to a yeast starter which had been super efficient in consuming all the sugars and therefore upping the ante.
I think this would be a stout that your typical non-stout drinker would love. As it warmed almost to room temperature, the Starbucks Breakfast Blend coffee inside popped and I really begun to enjoy the booziness of the brew. It has a thinner mouthfeel than I’m used to, but that’s probably my problem. I rarely drink stouts, usually only going with bigger, badder, bolder imperial stouts. Likewise, The Captain mentioned the thin mouthfeel could be due to his having topped off his primary with a half gallon or so of water.
That’s the thing about homebrewing, it’s an inexact science one must constantly tweak. I get it. And I bet his next attempt at this will be even better, though this one is quite good. I’d even pay money for it.
So read his blog and if you’re a rich venture capitalist send him some money to start a brewery. It’ll benefit us all. Or at least him. And probably me too, since I would no doubt beg him to let me do something at the brewery. Or at least give me free beer for life.
*I’d love to homebrew too, only problem is I live in an apartment as big as a Piercing Pagoda kiosk at the mall. Plus, I got a lot of other stuff on my plate. And by “plate” I mean DVR and by “stuff” I mean “Pushing Daisies” episodes I’m behind on. I’ll get into homebrewing in my twilight years, when I live on a golf course with my 25-year-old trophy wife who I married while wearing tails.