I was knee-high when I had my first experience with beer. I remember many days where my sister and I would sit on the kitchen floor dotted with small puddles of the stuff while dad would pass us brew after brew.
He would run a line from his bottling bucket on the counter to a wand filler in his hand and top off an endless supply of perfectly sanitized, empty pry-off beer bottles and pass them to our tiny awaiting hands.
Of course I was too young at the time to enjoy the final product, but I loved brewing when I was a child because it was time spent with my dad. I was doing something he was clearly passionate about, and I love brewing now because of it. I can now see what he saw when peering into the mash just before sending it into a rolling boil. I now feel the pride that he felt when the smell of wort fills the house, knowing that you’re practicing a respected craft.
Picking up the skills in order to successfully and confidently make a batch of beer on my own has been an interesting process. I’m still an amateur, but I have picked up the hobby far earlier than most.
As a freshman in high school, in a country that doesn’t allow the consumption of alcohol until the ripe old age of 21, I decided to make my own hard cider. This required empty Snapple bottles, balloons, a gallon jug of apple cider, bread yeast, bleach for sanitization and a syphon made of straws taped together. It sounds sketchy, but with a general knowledge of fermentation, I could produce about a gallon of “hard cider” a week in an operation hidden behind my desk at home.
As I grew older and my parents grew more accepting, I asked my father to help me brew for real. I quickly picked it up and a year ago, after borrowing equipment from my father for a couple batches, I received a brewing kit of my own for Christmas. So far, I’ve brewed one batch of beer at school, which was a ginger pale ale, and I put together another recipe called, A Late Autumn Frost, for the near future.
Coming to Canada has been a great experience for me for many reasons, one being the ability to fully express my love of beer without having to hide it in order to dodge the law. On the other hand though, from my experience in Eastern Canada, I believe this region has a long way to go when it comes to embracing craft beer and its production. I have multiple qualms with the New Brunswick legal system regarding both the legislation for the sales of alcohol, and the laws regarding the production of it.
Now it is only fitting that I have a drink as a toast to writing my first column about brewing so I’m currently enjoying a Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale from my homeland, New Hampshire. This is the last beer of a case I bought as my first legal purchase in the United States earlier this month when I returned home for the weekend. But to those reading this, a Smutty Pale isn’t easy to come by so I suggest exploring the beers available here in Fredericton and making a toast to a something going right in your life.
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