My husband’s increasingly intense love affair with brewing beer has had some unexpected benefits. Drawbacks as well, to be sure—he spends a ridiculous amount of time cleaning bottles, shopping for supplies, reading books about beer, and marketing the “burgeoning brewing society or club or organization or some damn thing” known as Subzero Brewing. But back to the benefits. First of all, Josh’s partners in this venture are some of my favorite guys: my brother-in-law, Brian; my brother, Andy; and my dear old dad, Pete. I get to see a lot more of them than I used to. Second, we’ve established a very cool ritual known as Brew Day.
Brew Day occurs every two to four weeks and is held at my house. Friends and family who are interested in huddling around cauldrons of boiling water in my driveway brave whatever weather Minnesota happens to dish up. Children chase each other across the front yard, the dogs make a worse commotion than usual, and passersby crane their necks, most likely thinking, “What in God’s name is that stainless steel contraption?”
Music plays in the background, the garage television displays football or golf, and beer geeks old and new sample ales from tiny tasting glasses. Brewers in hats, gloves, coveralls, boots, and parkas measure, mix, stir, pour, and hone their recipes, all whilst educating their guests on the magical properties of yeast and hops. The scent that wafts from the batch in progress is like honey-wheat bread baking in the sunlight. If you inhale slowly through your nose, perhaps you can smell it.
I mainly hold down the fort in the house, where there could be anywhere from two to six children playing at any given time. Cousins work on sharing, toddlers grind play-doh into the rug, and parents sit around shooting the breeze. For me, what’s beautiful is that once a bunch of people gather, I can’t really get anything done around the house. And as long as I’ve had a chance to clean and grocery shop earlier in the weekend, that’s a good thing. Ironically, Brew Day has become a sabbath of sorts.
Like any good gathering, Brew Day involves food. Sometimes, it’s as simple as calling our favorite pizzeria, but we’ve also had fare as fancy as pork tenderloin and as appropriate as grilled brats and burgers. Today, I started working on a soft pretzel recipe, and as the brewers were wrapping up their batch at the end of the day, we stood around in the driveway, dipping warm pretzels in mustard, melted butter, and queso dip.
I know that Brew Days are a ton of work for the brewers, and in truth, they do wear me out a bit too, but I have to say—these simple days of playing, eating, and spending time together are the stuff of future good-old-days tales. “Those were the days, kids,” we’ll say to our offspring as they roll their eyes. “Those were the days.”
I Want to Know
- Do you have any weekend rituals that don’t involve household chores?
- For what purpose do you and your friends and family like to gather?