A few weeks ago my husband drilled a hole in our kitchen countertop. It took two drill bits, several hours and a lot of cursing. Once the dust settled we had a reverse osmosis water system. The water tastes fine, but I'm OK with tap. The water isn't for me, though. It's for the beer.
My husband, Chris, has been homebrewing for years, long before we met. By the time I found him he had a pretty advanced setup in his garage and quite a few brews to show for many Saturdays of hard work. I left our third date with a souvenir set: a Two Hearted Ale-inspired IPA, a stout and a habanero-infused IPA. Sitting on my couch in late summer 2016 I sipped on that spicy beer and texted my new beau, "This is great!"
Words of affirmation are key when you're married to a homebrewer.
At first I thought I'd like to join in on the fun. I like beer, I like day drinking and shooting the breeze in garages. Or so I thought.
Chris excitedly told me the homebrewing ratio: It's 10 percent doing stuff and 90 percent cleaning. I decided I'm "meh" on doing stuff and a hard "no" on cleaning. Chris likes cleaning (I am a lucky gal).
So our Saturdays, for years, were the perfect pairing of our favorite activities. Chris and his homebrewing friend Jon would sit in the garage, drinking beer, making beer and inevitably shouting when something boiled over (something always boils over). I'd drink beer on the porch, cheering them on.
Chris brewed a special beer for our wedding. It was horrible. We laughed about it. Sometimes I think that homebrewers and writers have a lot in common — we often have to kill our darlings.
These days, the beer experimentation is at an all-time high. Our kegerator recently had three solid choices on tap: English bitter, hefeweizen, pineapple sour. I sipped each and noted its complexity, its aftertaste, its potential mass appeal (what homebrewer doesn't dream of one day opening a brewery?)
At five-and-a-half months pregnant, I can only sip these lovingly crafted concoctions. So, naturally, Chris made me a nonalcoholic IPA. We discussed it at length before he started. Beers often lose a lot of good flavor when you burn off the alcohol, so he loaded it with hops after burning off the booze. "I want a palate crusher! I want to think I'm getting loaded!" I said.
When his various gadgets (I promise they have names I cannot recall) couldn't tell him for sure if the beer still had alcohol in it, Chris made the ultimate sacrifice and drank three pints of it on his own to see if he felt a buzz. I watched, jealously, from my side of the couch, drinking a (non-alcoholic) seltzer.
I told him I can go a few more months sans beer — "hop water," as we've come to call the NA stuff. I just discovered a not-horrible alcohol free wine that should hold me over for a while.
For now, for beer, I wait. I watch as my kitchen counter fades away behind a plume of gray dust. I peer through the window as Chris painstakingly sanitizes each piece of his brewing equipment. I open the front door to a new package, every day, containing some tiny instrument meant to enhance the brew.
In November we'll have a baby. Chris hopes to have some mead ready, too, just in time for the holidays. And he's currently taking requests. What do I want to drink when I can drink again?
The answer is easy: Any beer you brew, any beer at all.