As I look at the recipe of our first brew as an official brewery, I ponder is this the moment at which I allow myself think, “yep we’ve started”.
Or should I hold off until striking the match for the fire in Mad Max for the inaugural brew? The heating of water is the first part of brew day after all and is integral to what makes beer, the heat is what make beer safe and gives that hop bitterness or floral aromas.
Maybe it would be better when the sweet wort is safely in the fermenter with yeast starting to chomp on the sugar creating all sorts of flavours, after all it’s the yeast that makes the beer, brewers just make the liquid to let them do their thing. Maybe that first bubble from the air-lock will be when we know that train is leaving the station.
What about bottling the first batch, that’s when we reap the harvest that we have sown by tasting the beer closer to as, and when, it will come out of its bottle, having re-fermented over the course of a few weeks. See then it’s so close that we might as well affectionately clad each bottle with a label, putting on its ‘Sunday best’ to go out there representing all that has gone before this point. Perhaps it is when someone exchanges that hard-earned currency for one of these beers, opens and takes that first swig?
All these moments will be cherished; most likely in hindsight. I look back on the moment when baling straw one harvest while listening to brewers talk about the craft beer festival in the ‘big smoke’. Blissful sunshine (a rarity of course) and thoughts drifting around in my head along the lines of:
Bales… beer… barley… we grow barley… barley makes beer… wait a second…
For me that’s the genesis moment when this all began; it’s the most natural progression from growing malting barley for years at the mercy of world ‘market’ fluctuations. That set a whole chain reaction of elements fusing leading to now- sitting here, looking at a recipe, visualising all these steps ahead while imagining the texture, taste and aroma.
When I think of the first brew, I’m excited, very excited. We’ve brewed loads of times before, but it’ll be different. We are, in sporting terms, stepping out from being underage or minor to being senior; we are on the pitch with grizzled adults who’ve been in this game for years, know the tricks and the ropes. Sure, they only love to see young pups on the scene exploring and finding their feet!
Why do trumpets not sound in my head? Maybe it’s a thing from farming- seasons flow- just because it’s the first of February, it doesn’t mean spring has arrived. It flows from winter to spring and when there are lambs running around and the crops are in the ground growing, then that’s spring. I guess you have to celebrate these little moments that you associate with that season- the lambs playing, the germination in the fields- but you’re thinking of the next one, the next jobs coming down the line of summer.