Eleven years ago, my brother, Billy, bought me a homebrew kit. It was a Downtown Brown clone, one of the classic beginner homebrew recipes suitable for beginners. We brewed it together one weekend as we shared a few bottles. When we cracked open the first bottle at a BBQ we threw to share the beer with our friends, I was nervous as hell. I held the bottle at arm's length in case it would gush with over carbonation. Fsst! It didn’t. It was fizzy, hoppy, malty and delicious. We polished off the whole batch that day over ribs, jokes, and laughter. There was nothing like that feeling of watching our friends come together to share the beer we’d made. I was hooked.
Last Friday, Jeff and I brewed our first batch of beer at Laughing Monk Brewing, a Pale Ale that you'll get to try soon. Though the kettle holds about as much beer as I’ve brewed in a decade of homebrewing, the smell of it is still the same. The caramelly malt, the citrusy hops, everything I loved about that first batch is still there. In a few short weeks, we’ll be opening our doors to once again share the joy of beer with our friends and neighbors. I can’t wait.
From that first batch of homebrew, to changing zoning laws to allow brewers in our neighborhood, to permitting, to community outreach and construction, the road here has been long. Through that process, we’ve fallen in love with our new home here in the Bayview. Our fellow food entrepreneurs have inspired our creativity. We’ve been humbled by the great work of our local non-profits and donated our beer to support them whenever possible. We’ve gotten our hands dirty working at our local community gardens to help grow chamomile for our beer and vegetables for our neighbors.
What makes beer so great, besides its amazing variety of flavors, is its ability to bring people together. As Samuel Johnson once said, “There is nothing which has been yet contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern”. I saw the truth in that quote over those first homebrewed bottles 11 years ago and in a few weeks we can all raise a glass to the joy of sharing a beer with friends.