Delightful Adult Beverage

I admit it. These past few weeks have been filled with a higher beer drinking to cycling ratio. It’s inevitable. I love cycling and I love beer, but it’s hard to juggle two loves at once.

If there is any redemption to this post, it’s that I have been devoting my time to beer for a purpose: the worthy cause of the pursuit of knowledge.

While cycling by Lagunitas a couple of months ago, a few friends of mine and I decided that it would be a brilliant idea to get into home brewing. And this past weekend, we finally brewed our first batch of wort en route to an amber ale.

Here are a few highlights leading up to our first brew night:

A free Monday night home brew seminar with Griz the brewmaster.

San Francisco Brewcraft, located in the Inner Richmond in San Francisco offers a free introduction to home brewing class on Monday nights at 6 p.m. Griz covers the basics of brew technique as well as the “mojo” that makes the whole process, and your finished product, more enjoyable. He gives you “muy importante” tips and tricks that he’s gathered from his years of experience as well as an anecdotes and jokes (with an occasional disclaimer for sensitive ears). The seminar lasted about two and a half hours and I would recommend it to anyone that is looking to pick up another hobby. Griz also mentioned that most weeks he’ll serve up a home brew to his students. They ask that you call to reserver a spot before 4 p.m. at 415-751-9338.

A tour of one of our largest breweries.

(Stolen from Flickr.)

On the complete other end of the spectrum, while stuck in traffic on the way out to Vacaville, my girlfriend and I decided to stop off at the Budweiser tour in Fairfield, CA. I’ve actually done this tour once before while in college. Not being a huge fan of Budweiser, there’s not too much to praise about this tour. They run tours Monday through Saturday, although bottling is only done M-F. I did like the feeling of being in a How it’s Made t.v. show and free beer never hurts.

The big night.

A handful of friends and I brewed five gallons of amber ale this past Friday. We spend about four hours boiling, cooling, and adding ingredients at different intervals. At each step, we sampled our concoction noticing how sweet it was. According to my friend who housed the event, our batch already began “burping” a couple days later, which is a sign that the yeast is beginning to turn the sugars into alcohol and subsequently releasing carbon dioxide (they grow up so fast). The beer will go through a couple more steps before being bottled and becoming a delightful adult beverage. The final product should be done in a few weeks. Can’t wait.

Pounds and Pounds of Humpies

So we didn’t quite hit the 1,000,000 mark, but we did end up catching more fish. Expected, right? We did a little over 400,000 pounds of pink salmon (humpies) and although the boat will be out for another week or so, I decided to get off a little early to play tourist. Plus, I was going a bit mad being cooped up on the boat. Kind of expected as well.

In all honesty, fishing is tough. I will admit it. And it’s not necessarily the physical aspect of it either. I was pretty sore just about every day from back aches to banging my head/knee/elbow on just about everything available to stiff shoulders from sleeping funny to feeling nauseous from the constant rocking. But beyond that, it is really the day-in-day-out aspect that really grinds at you. There’s only so many places you can go on a boat, and regardless of how well you get along with people, being on a boat that long will bring out the worst in you. Trust me.

So on the topic of tough days, I went overboard a little over a week ago. In just about the worst way too. In fishing, line (which is more like rope) is strewn everywhere on the deck and when it’s on its way out of the boat, you want to keep hands/arms/feet/etc. away from the bite. The bite is any loop that is connected to an outgoing line. That’s probably the first golden rule of fishing…if there were such a thing. Well, in this case, my right leg got caught in the bite and the other end of the line was connected to the skiff (a small boat designed to be slow and powerful). There are stories of people getting legs broken and worse, being dragged to the bottom of the ocean, but I was fortunate enough to get away with a bruise and a story.

As I’m writing this, my pictures are uploading to my flikr page. Here’s a little taste of the action (me with a couple of king salmons). Beauties!

Another highlight of our trip was a flair opener a couple days ago. Most years, a hatchery will allow boats to fish near its grounds. The benefit of this is that you know for sure that there are fish in the water. However, there is a window of time that you can fish and a lot of boats to compete with and you can’t start until they fire the flair, thus the flair opener. Essentially, it’s the craziest day of the year and all fishing etiquette goes out the window. Some boats caught up to 170,000 pounds that day and others banged around and got near nothing. Let’s just say that our day was an experience.

And here’s a picture of a jumping fish from the flair opener. Exciting!

I will be making my way to San Francisco during the next week with a stay in Seattle for a few days. If you’re in the Seattle area, let me know. I’d love to connect. And in terms of San Francisco, I have no concrete plans. I will need to unwind for a bit, then get serious again about life…I guess.

There’s more I will add about this trip, but I need to sleep. Honestly. For a long time.