Father's Day Gifting?: Home Brewed Beer Kit
I read somewhere that a psychologist once said women love baking because they are creating something. Somehow the conclusion was drawn that a woman who bakes enjoys it because it is akin to giving birth, hence creation. I really thought this was a bunch of BS until I brewed my first batch of Microbrew Beer at home and gave it out to drink at a recent party.
Upon announcing at a poker event that I had brewed my own beer, a friend of mine said he'd drop dead before he drank it, so I made labels with a skull and crossbones and called it "Drop Dead Red" (Red Ale). When it was ready, Drop Dead Red was unveiled at a party. There were some hesitant faces as this frothy concoction was poured into glasses. After quietly watching yours truly down a glass, they followed suit-and asked for more. I have since brought Drop Dead Read to three events. My favorite reaction came from a wide eyed, mortified doctor; mouth gaping as she stared at the Skull and Crossbones. She waited until everyone in the room (including her husband) drank plenty before downing a 16 ounce cup. The response? Same result. They all liked Drop Dead Red. Because it was beer, the men certainly had a stronger appreciation for this home made brew. A couple of the guys even inquired about making their own beer & asked me to blog about it.
I researched three companies, and settled on www.monstrebrew.com simply because their website was idiot proof. These guys even have a Master Brewer available to answer brewing questions along with forum that connects experienced brewers with amateurs. In addition, their CSR's (Customer Service Reps) are well versed to help through mishaps, but it's the attention they give on a personal level that impresses me. David Fitzhugh, Supervisor, Monster Brew Operations, took my initial order for a full kit plus 3 brewing recipe kits for about $265. David spent roughly 30 minutes answering my barrage of questions until the purchase, but what really impressed me was the time spent AFTER the sale (much more than 30 minutes). These kits are not anything like the Mr. Beer kits out there for $50, which are a complete waste. Monster Brew kits are industrial in approach but scaled down and are made easy. Kits at Monster Brew start at $129 and are well worth the price and the look of satisfaction people give you when sip this home made creation.
As for the experience? Having made and distributed several cases of beer, I can easily say that I am one step closer to knowing what it's like to give birth or being pregnant. Especially after downing 5 or 6 bottles of Drop Dead Ale.
I asked David Fitzhugh, of Monster Brew, if he would like to guest blog about how he got into the home brewing groove, and here is his story:
Why Brew Your Own Beer.
I want to reminisce with you about how I got hooked on brewing beer. It has been an experience and, I might add, an ongoing one. Little did I expect what was in store? Depending on what you read, home brewing can seem to be an immense and overly complex undertaking with only a small payoff for the amount of work required. I read this, but was undeterred; I wanted to brew my own beer. I quickly realized that this was an exploration of beers more complex than your average American light beer and, after exploring these craft beers, it opened my eyes to the depth of flavor capable of being achieved in a bottle of beer. Recognizing this complexity gave me insight into the art of creating great beer and the joy that can be derived from the accomplishment.
My first experience with craft beer came through the Dogfish Head Brewery out of Delaware. It began when I ventured beyond the hard liquor aisle at my local liquor mega-mart, and decided to peek at the extensive beverage coolers lining the walls of the store. Unlike the supermarket beer buying experience I was accustomed to, I perceived a different treatment. Instead of 30 shelves racked with blue Miller Light boxes, I noticed the shelves were stocked with varying selections, and it seemed there was no uniformity to the contents of the bottles. This piqued my interest and made me question myself: “How have I not stepped outside of my own little box until now?”
A little disconcerted, I nervously began to scan the boxes with no idea where to begin, or even what I was looking for. I get that same feeling when my significant other drags me clothes shopping with her. In this case, there happened to be an employee of the liquor store nearby who asked if I could use some help. It was likely he already knew I desperately did from the hopeless look on my face. I was glad to be offered some assistance.
I explained that I had zero clue to these beers or even what sort of tastes to be looking for. At the time, I mostly drank Lonestar Light (the National Beer of Texas for the uninitiated) or Miller Light. My beer vocabulary was quite limited. Asking a Miller Light drinker to define “hoppy” is akin to asking a blind man to describe the color red.
Working with me, the attendant eventually pointed to a 4 pack of Midas’ Touch from Dogfish Head Brewery. Looking at the price tag I wondered, is this guy just a salesman trying to sell me something expensive. I thanked him for his time, and continued reading the boxes. I finally whipped out my trusty smart phone to check what the word on the internet was about Midas’ Touch beer. Seeing a bit of the history, I was intrigued by the idea of a beverage similar in style to that consumed by a Greek king thousands of years prior. The 9% ABV designation didn’t hurt this beer’s chances either. I grabbed a 4 pack of Midas’ Touch from the cooler, paid the cashier and headed home to put my experiment to the test.
What happened with the first glass was the discovery of a taste I had never imagined, much the same as my first true wine-tasting experience with great wines. The flavor was deep and full, reminiscent of many foods and ingredients all at once in balance with each other. The effect was startling and, to say the least, magnificent. I had a second and glass, and began a search of the internet for the brewery(s) where Dogfish Head was created. The story behind the microbrewery responsible for such a wonderful creation is intriguing, and spurred on my determination to produce a beer equally good.
It was at this point, no doubt with a glass of Midas’ Touch in hand, that I really started to read and explore the history of beer, how it is made, and what can be achieved in a single beverage. My greatest realization about beer has been that the true limitation of the beverage is the box inside which the creator limits himself. Dogfish Head exemplifies this notion, never allowing the status quo to guide tomorrow’s beer, always willing to leap ahead—the beer always improving. The art of brewing beer instantly grabbed my interest from the ingredients chosen to the techniques used throughout the process. This was the hook that led to brewing my own beer.
Seeing large scale brewery pictures for the first time is quite intimidating. Brewing beer en masse has become a streamlined industrial process, with massive fermentation vessels, automated systems, computer controls and robotic packaging, that can easily mask the fact that below all this metal lives a very organic process of creation. Behind these systems there exists a rich history of human experience, sharing, and contributing to the creation of a beverage to be shared universally.
Overcoming the initial fears is of utmost importance because this hobby offers much more than weekend fun. If you understand where I’m coming from, you’re ready to brew your own batch of beer. It’s not about having the same experience that brings you to this hobby, but about sharing the experience itself with folks who for whatever reason have the same passion that you do.