Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

image of my new beer benchTwo and a half years? It’s been two and a half years since I’ve tried brewing beer? A man with priorities as screwed up as that should not be allowed to consider himself a home brewer. I hang my head in shame, wondering what the hell I’ve been doing with my life, and offer these excuses, lame as they may be:

I started thinking about brewing again last weekend after My Darling B came down to the basement to see how successful I’d been snaking out the sink that’s been clogged for two and a half years. That clogged drain was one of the biggest reasons I gave up trying to brew beer in the corner of the basement I rather grandly refer to as “the brewery.” And as far as the drain was concerned, I’d been so very successful about fixing it and was feeling so well-chuffed about it that, after B congratulated me and remarked that we’d have to clean up the bottles and other junk that was cluttering up the floor, I started getting ideas.

I’d been brewing in that corner of the basement because there was a sink there, but that was just about its only redeeming feature and, as redeeming features go, it was setting the bar pretty low. It’s one of those old-fashioned concrete sinks that you were meant to wash clothes in, divided down the middle, very dirty and all but impossible to clean up because the wash machine drained into it. To make beer, you have to at least attempt to keep things sanitary, but that sink made cleanliness a challenge. I washed all my beer brewing equipment in the kitchen sink before lugging it down the basement, not the most encouraging arrangement, and only used the downstairs sink when it was time to wash the crud out of the fermenter.

After a while, though, I discovered there was one other redeeming feature in that corner of the basement: hot and cold water lines running across the rafters, apparently for what in the distant past had been a shower stall. I ran the lines down the wall and connected them to a plastic utility sink that I bought for nothing at a garage sale. That gave me a place where I could wash the bottles and all the beer brewing equipment, and life was good – until the sewer backed up and I couldn’t figure out how to clear it.

Well, last weekend, using a deep-drilling sewer snake of my own invention, I managed to bust that clog, and as if that wasn’t enough to make life worth living, spring finally arrived in all its speldor splendor, complete with warm, sunny days, twittering birds and weekends on the patio with my best girl, so naturally a man starts to think of brewing beer. I think that’s what’s supposed to be on my mind. Maybe not. If not, I’m sure somebody will point out what it is I am supposed to be thinking about. After looking over the wrack and ruin of what I had imagined to be my beer-brewing wonderland, I cleared away the bottles that cluttered the floor, swept up the mouse turds that seemed to be everywhere, threw out the discarded cardboard six-pack carriers that where piling up to the ceiling, and got to thinking about what I could do to make this a working brewery again.

One of the most awkward features of the brewery had been the bar I’d been using as a work bench. One of the previous owners had hammered it together out of leftover ceiling joists, Brobdignagian chunks of scrap wood an inch and a half thick and twelve inches wide. It was a very small bar, just three feet high and about five and a half feet wide, but it weighed a couple hundred pounds. I know because Tim and I hauled it from one corner of the basement to the other. The battleship New Jersey wasn’t nearly as solidly built as this bar was.

About the only thing this bar had going for it was that it had a linoleum counter top. That was in the “pro” column. On the downside, the bar had a row of bar stools that jutted three fee out in front of the counter top, making it all but impossible to use as a surface on which to prepare grain, set up hydrometers and other scientific instrumentation, or to clean, dry and prepare the various and sundry buckets, funnels, bottles and jars needed to brew beer. That thing had to go if I was going to have enough room to do what I wanted to do, but I really had no idea how I could make it go away all by myself, so I did what any guy would do: I hit it with a hammer, and I kept on hitting it with a hammer until it was in pieces on the floor.

That took several hours, and after I swept up the mess I had to relax for a little while with a beer and reflect on what I’d done.

I had a much larger area to work in than I’d ever had before. I also had quite a lot of very high-quality lumber at my disposal. The possibilities were dizzying. Those floor joists were old school, not the chipboard crap that houses are built on now. We’re talking solid hardwood. I did a little math and figured that, if I ripped them along the length, I could get plenty of usable lumber I could use to build the frame for a work bench. And I had had the foresight to save the formica countertop. I set to work.

phoenix | 6:00 am CST
Category: entertainment, hobby, homebrewing, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, T-Dawg
2 Comments | Add a comment

2 Comments

  1. 1 The Seanster said at 7:05 pm on March 20th, 2012:

    I COMMAND that you begin brewing beer again, at once, for my eventual imbibing.

    Also, “spring finally arrived in all its *speldor*.” Pray tell, what is the speldor?

  2. 2 Dave said at 8:51 pm on March 20th, 2012:

    You don’t remember visiting Speldor while we were overseas? Tsk. How soon they froget.