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Monday, January 2, 2017

Stress Brewing (Part 2)

Welcome to part 2 of “Stress Brewing”. As I stated in episode 1, brewing and drinking beer is my outlet. When all seems lost and I feel as if my head may explode I brew beer. Brewing a batch of beer became a QUEST. With the help of my wife I purchased a turkey fryer, which is easily converted to beer brewing, at least that’s what I thought.

Immediately after the purchasing my “New Equipment”, I started the process of securing ingredients. Reaching out to my ever expanding network of European homebrewers I learned that most homebrewers here order ingredients online, as there are few if any brick and mortar brew shops in Germany. After not less than six hours, and thousands of curse words later, I decide that German online shops are out of the question, opting for a UK supplier. In a matter of minutes I order all the ingredients for one of my award winning IPA’s (I only have one award to my credit but it sounds more impressive this way). The website states “Guaranteed Delivery in 48 hours”. YES, that’s for me! Apparently the 48 hour rule only applies to people within a one block radius. Who knew? Nearly two and half “48 hour blocks” (Five Days) later my wife calls me at work to inform that the “Shipment” has arrived, and some of the ingredients have exploded.I yell with joy, jumping in the air, much to the ire of my coworkers. (Apologies to the security folks) I tell my assistant brewer (AKA my Wife) to “Bag” whatever is loose in the box and I will deal with it when I get home. All of the pieces are finally in place. New “Equipment”, AND ingredients. This weekend I BREW!

There are many similarities between a turkey fryer and brewing equipment. Basically an open flame heating a big kettle is where the similarity ends. The packaging on my “Turkey Fryer/Beer Brewing Equipment” stated, some assembly required. “Assembly” is an understatement in any language. Unlike traditional brewing equipment this one comes with a “Safety Timer” because so many people have burned down their neighborhoods trying to cook thanksgiving dinner. Apparently the powers that be have determined that a 15 minute timer would prevent this from happening. Nay nay, where there is a will there is a way.

It’s a gorgeous day in Southern Germany, a rarity for the first week in December with temperatures rapidly approaching the mid-50’s. I hastily assemble my new brew equipment and gather all of the ingredients. Today is the day I relieve my stress!!! At least that’s what I thought. I place my ‘Equipment” on the patio as neighbors scuttle about, in a vain attempt to protect their “Kinder” from the American fool. I turn on the gas and flick my bic lighter near the burner…. Nothing. I flick my bic again and again but to no avail. Son of a !@$()!!!!!  A subtle hissing noise of gas emanates from the burner as the neighbor’s dog whimpers. I turn off the gas and reevaluate the situation, determining that the “Safety” timer is obviously the problem. I reset the timer and try again. KABLOOM! The burner ignites. Now I wait. In a matter of minutes the water in the pot begins to boil as thousands of BTU’S (British thermal unit) work their magic.
I am ecstatic, overcome with a feeling of euphoria as I am one step closer to “Destressing”! I add the malted grains, reduce the heat, open a beer, sit down and wait. My eyes begin to flutter in the warmth of the sun when suddenly, DING! The timer expires and the flame goes out. %#$!!!!!! I grab the lighter and try to light the burner. I hear and smell it before I feel it. “It” being the hair on my arms burning as they make contact with the burner frame. Over the next 90 minutes this process would be repeated several times, until my arms were as bald as my head.

Despite all of my trials and tribulations a magnificent IPA was born. Today, with a feeling of inspiration, and regrown arm hair, I ordered the ingredients for a chocolate Belgian quad. Delivery service and beer gods willing this weekend I will brew my first batch of 2017. There will be little fear for my safety as the temperatures are in the 20’s and more importantly the “Safety” timer will be removed.
Until next time

Safe brewing and prost!