Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's a runner doing homebrewing?

I'm not quite sure myself.

For thirty years, I've had pretty much one hobby, running. A good run is enjoyable in its own right, but training for a race is actually an elaborate game of managing fatigue and discomfort in pursuit of running further and faster. The moment you break free of the tedious workouts, over come the limitations your body and mind put on you, and cross the finish line at a time or place you were shooting for, is priceless. It happens only 2-3 times a year for most runners, and that is why these moments are so precious.

I've always enjoyed a good beer, and a good beer buzz after a hard run is a wonderful thing. Over the last couple years, I've found craft beer to be like a set of new set of running trails to explore. You never know what's going to be around the corner, and you always run across something a little different. In a addition to being satisfying and tasty, beer as the people's beverage, is a reflection of economics, politics, and geography, all subjects of interest to me.

I didn't really appreciate food until I started making it for myself, and so if I'm really going to understand beer, I'm going to have to brew it. A long time friend of mine, with a great deal of homebrewing experience, has agreed to work with me and start me down the homebrewing road. He hasn't homebrewed in seven years, and was thinking about starting again. We realized we had been drifting apart, and homebrewing seemed like a good way to reconnect.

Homebrewing is a whole new world for me. "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew" is the mantra of homebrew author Chuck Papazian, at total odds with the "Pain is temporary, pride is forever"running ethic I grew up with. If things go horribly wrong with a homebrew, you can just pour it down the drain. If things go horribly wrong running, I'm usually limping around for at least a couple weeks. Perhaps it says something that plenty of runners are in to beer, but not a lot of homebrewers seem into running.

Success in running is satisfying due to the rewards that come from the discomfort and committment that comes with the territory. My friend warns that homebrewing involves a lot of cleaning glass and stainless steel gadgets. Even thought I'm not much into cleaning, that doesn't seem so bad. I'm sure there are some pretty driven home brewers, and homebrewing can be a lot of hard work. But if all I have to do is clean some things to brew beer, will I care about success or failure of the taste of the final brew? Have I been missing the point all along?

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