On Beer

» 31 May 2010 » In Beer, Me »

Hi, my name is Andrei and I am a beer enthusiast.

To some of you this may not be news, but beer is something that has become a significant part of my life during the last couple of years. That is not to say that I didn’t drink beer before – I did, but somewhat indiscriminately and without paying much attention to the actual product. And while I do enjoy other fine adult beverages, such as wine, bourbon, whisky, gin, and well-crafted cocktails, beer is what I feel passionate about and I finally want to start writing a bit about it, on this blog, for now.

Beer is the world’s oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic beverage and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. Many anthropologists and historians believe that beer is what made early hunter-gatherers finally settle down and become sedentary farmers, because well, they needed barley to brew it, so one can say that beer was one of the driving forces behind the rise of civilization. Moreover, most fresh water wasn’t exactly safe to drink back then and beer provided both hydration and sustenance.

Beer has more styles and varieties than any other alcoholic beverage, and though almost all beer is made using the same 4 ingredients (water, barley, hops, and yeast), the sheer number of additional ingredients that can be used to brew beer and the creativity that goes into the process can put almost everything else to shame. Despite this, there is still a widely spread perception that beer is that pale, cold, “subtly flavored” beverage that is marketed by the giant companies collectively known in the brewing circles as BMC. I’ll let you guess what that stands for. Thankfully, there is a thriving craft brewing industry both in the United States and abroad now, and beer is finally starting to be treated with respect.

About a year and half ago I got into homebrewing, thanks to the efforts of Brien Wankel and especially Sean Coates, who has been instrumental in answering a bajillion questions I had when getting started. I never thought that I could actually make beer myself, but after reading the online version of How to Brew by John Palmer, I was immediately fascinated by how easy and yet how sophisiticated the brewing process can be. The more advanced part of it has to deal with biochemistry, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and even metallurgy and this appealed to the geek in me. I bought the starter kit from MoreBeer and made my first batch, which was a Best Bitter English-style ale. When I opened a bottle 4 weeks later and found that not only was it not bad, but actually pretty drinkable, I knew that I was hooked. Since then I’ve brewed about once a month, exploring various techniques and styles. I’ve also sent some of my beers to competitions and even won a 3rd place in the American Amber category at Puget Sound Pro-Am last year.

Crafting a beverage that can be enjoyed by yourself and others is a great feeling, and I hope to share more about it in the coming posts. Additionally, I plan to review various beers and write about the beer industry, events, places to find good beer and hopefully much more.


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3 Comments on "On Beer"

  1. andrei
    31/05/2010 at 5:20 pm Permalink

    You like beer?! 😛

    I have you to thank for my growing appreciation and education as it relates to beer. Looking forward to reading about your insight into beer…it sure does beat the geek stuff you normally write about that goes over my head. xx

  2. andrei
    Jason Sweat
    31/05/2010 at 5:53 pm Permalink

    Hi Andrei,

    Sean and you were both instrumental in rekindling my interests in homebrewing. I did a few extract batches in the early nineties but the hobby went by the wayside with family, kids, etc. Much the same as you mention there are many process related issue which appeal to my inner geek. Unlike you, I apparently subscribe to the “anything worth doing is worth over doing” philosophy, and I have brewed about every 2 weeks since last June, producing over 30 batches since I talked to you and Sean at PHP|Tek 2009 and located a local homebrew shop about a week later. Thanks to a Christmas gift of a 15 gallon pot from my son, I have “graduated” to all-grain brewing and love the additional element of the mash in the process. I recently started to enter some competitions as well, and was able to win 2nd place in the German Wheat & Rye beers category of the Granite City Brew Off.

    More importantly, I have been able to share my brews with friends and relatives, most recent brought nearly two cases worth of various to PHP|Tek to share with other homebrewers and beer aficionados. I think it is nice to be able to share something you have created by hand, this seems to be lost in this day and age of giving gift certificates.

    I would encourage anyone to try this fantastic hobby, and thank you Andrei for sharing your experiences and perhaps piquing the interest of a few more budding homebrewers.

  3. andrei
    Sean Coates
    31/05/2010 at 7:49 pm Permalink

    Thanks for the credit. I also need to write one of these type of posts.. (-:


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