For good or ill I began making calculations.
See, when people ask me if I’m still making beer my answer is “no.” They ask why. I say, “Just out of money and time.”
Let’s talk expense. During this past weekend and the one prior I’ve spent a combined total of approximately $70 on beer, either bottled or on tap at my local. I ran the numbers on the ingredients for a couple of Belgian’s I brewed in ages past and the total came to about $46. Let me now compare volume. I got about 10 beers for the seventy bucks. If I’d spent less money and made my own beer I could have had around eighty beers. Eight times as much beer for thirty four percent less cost. I wag my head.
Let’s talk time. On Friday’s I often arrive home from work around 2:30 or 3 pm. The wife comes home around 6. Then we spend a couple hours or more at the pub and at dinner. On Sunday I’ve been napping for over an hour and I’ve set up a regular beer event where a friend or two come to the house and we drink beer for two or three hours and have a nice little chinwag. Now, I don’t want to do away with either of those things. I don’t mind spending money or time on a date with the wife and an afternoon with the guys. However, with a little forethought I might be able to arrange my affairs and have one or two brewdays in a month. Honestly, I could turn Beer Sunday into Brew Sunday! I wag my head again.
Thus and so we come to the rub: what’s the real reason I don’t brew?
One reason is my lack of confidence. The last batch I brewed was a brown ale laced with cinnamon. I looked forward to it, although the brew day didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. Chilling the wort took so long. Far too long. The beer exploded due to an infection. It was disheartening. And the batch just prior to that didn’t come out so splendidly either. My quality had been diminishing. Some of it could be chalked up to aging equipment, I suppose. But I blame myself. I’ve lost confidence in being able to create decent art in a bottle.
Then, of course, I start to wonder if any of my beers were ever that good. People said they were, but, they were friends. Nice friends. The good kind of friends. Maybe they liked the beer just because they were good friends. Certainly, even if that were the case, that would not of necessity preclude further brewing. In fact, if I were a good friend myself I would continue in an endeavor that they found pleasing.
What else? I started brewing in 1997. There was not the prodigious amount of home brewing knowledge and equipment out there that exists today. In fact, that lack of copious amounts of zymurgical erudition made home brewing an adventure. It was like being on the frontier, blazing new trails, discovering indigenous styles of beer long hidden. Now, it seems that all the knowledge is out there and the adventure is over. Every other person I meet is a home brewer. That’s not really bad, either. It just means a loss of exclusivity, which is just selfishness and vanity on my part.
I resist the idea of spending money on my own hobby. Somehow it just feels selfish. I should spend that money on things for other people or household necessities or other bona fide needs.
How do I get past all this?
Order some extract. Some hops. A vial of yeast. Let it sit in my kitchen. Staring at me. Daring me to combine these discrete elements into a masterpiece. It’s not like I don’t want to do it.
So do it.