Friday, 25 January 2013

The Family that Brews Together...

Two exciting milestones in home brewing took place this past weekend. First, my brother-in-law and I finally realized the dream of frat boys everywhere. We now have our very own kegs at home. That’s right. There we were watching the NFC Championship, sipping on beers dispensed from our very own keg. We’ve had the kegs since October – since my return to work from parental leave. Jason, fresh from the end of his own parental leave a year earlier, understood the mixed emotions that can be stirred up when reentering the labour force after nine of the best months you will ever have in your life. So he bought us a keg each to soothe the transition – what a brother, eh?!! After brewing a couple of batches back in October, we finally got around to kegging them this past weekend and subsequently tapped the keg to partake in the fruits of our labour.

The second milestone resides inside one of those kegs. We’ve been home brewing for a couple of years now. Home brewing is a lot like making spaghetti sauce. Most people start with a can or jar of store bought sauce and then add this and that to make it their own.  There’s also this thing you can do called "cooking from scratch." You know when you combine only raw ingredients and end up with sauce in the end. It’s the same with home brewing, there are numerous mixes you can get (like jars of spaghetti sauce) that you can use as a base and then you experiment with different types of ingredients to create really distinct beers. We’ve made some great beers using this method. An oatmeal stout, a cherry stout (one of my faves), an apple-bottomed cream ale and a crisp clear pilsner, to name a few.

Well this last batch included our first attempt at a beer made from scratch. We bought the grains, barley, hops and yeast...made the mash, brewed the wort and away we went. It was a pretty standard beer: golden and clear, smooth from the outset with a kick of citrus to finish due to the hops we used. Let me tell you, it was fantastic!!

Ahhhh…beer!! It’s a wonderful thing whether it be a cold, crisp, refreshing pilsner on a hot summer’s evening while BBQing or a tall-hearty stout on a cold winter’s night huddled by the hearth of the fire place (if we had a fire place).

However frat-like having a keg in your house may seem, make no mistake about it, my appreciation for beer has matured considerably from my days in university and very much so since the advent of our home brewing adventures. There will be no beer pong, no keg stands, nor any drunken debauchery. No – instead there will be a quiet satisfaction each time I pour a draft from my keg and a deep appreciation for the craftsmanship and effort that was invested in the creation of the beer. Be assured, the beer will be savoured slowly…although the Super Bowl is coming up so perhaps we should kick-off a couple new batches now to replace our supply that is sure to take a hit during our Super festivities.

On a side note...the last time the Ravens made the Super Bowl, I was in first year university, living in residence. I can’t remember who I picked to win…but I’m pretty sure I ended up in a kiddie pool filled with snow that we had brought into the common room. Don Benoit (our resident adviser responsible for keeping order in residence) even got in on the action and took a roll in the snow. Good times!!

In all seriousness and with a little sappiness, Jason has been a huge blessing to me and my family – beyond the keg and beer. It’s remarkable that we get along so well and lucky too since our families spend so much time together. Think about the scenario: two guys - from opposite sides of the bridge (I’m talking about the causeway in Kingston – he went to RMC and I went to Queen’s), one an engineer and the other an actor-turned-librarian/information scientist, one a hockey player the other a football enthusiast (who played a little in his teenage years) - marrying into the same family…well that could have been disastrous.

I was in a more advantageous position than Jason.  He married into the family first and was already well entrenched as part of the Preece family package by the time I arrived. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into (well at least on the surface). But for all he knew, Lex could have married some hipster doofus (please hold the comments suggesting that she did in fact marry such a man)!

Surprisingly we have a lot more in common beyond our love for the Preece women, beer and sports!! It’s one of those good things in life that are easy but not advisable to take for granted and overlook. So with that in mind, I hold aloft a tall blonde (a pint of our brew…not a woman) to toast family and friendship!!


(cue the song, "You've Got a Friend in Me.")


  1. The blessings of good friends and family far exceed any material offerings this world can provide in themselves, and I am truly blessed.

  2. Ya - we gave up Luxembourg for you guys... you better love us.