All credit to my good friend J for getting me started on brewing, lending us gear, and I would say “teaching me everything I know” but that’s what they call damning with faint praise. J is currently on what appears to be a beer-research sabbatical in North America, from whence he reports on a bewildering array of brews the likes of which the impoverished Aussie beer-consumer could only imagine.
Today I brewed my third all grain beer on the front porch of my unit, with several visitors coming to watch, drink home-roasted coffee, and reflect in equal measures on the sheer excitement of producing something of value for oneself, and the comparatively dismal state of typical working life à la the previous post’s satirical take on bullshit jobs, wage slavery, and consumerism.
The first two brews were done with a small group of us sharing the work and the product. It’s a good group activity but I’ve realised I need to go it alone in my own time if I’m ever to achieve a stockpile of delicious beer.
Having a stockpile is important. Not only does it offer a sense of material security to know that you have a pantry full of coffee beans, beer, tomato sauce, and so on, but it also allows a kind of natural rhythm to emerge in the balance of work and enjoyment, process and product. We’re so used to commercial models in which output must be consistent, constant, and always striving for new markets and new thresholds. But when you are producing for your own consumption you discover the pleasant and comforting reality of ‘enough’.
When I’m roasting coffee, I only have to put in half an hour of work to give me enough coffee for up to two weeks. Half an hour of roasting is fun. To do it every day would be tedious. To be commercially viable I would have to invest in an expensive piece of equipment that takes away all the mystery, the human element, and hence the fun. To make it ‘professional’ would ruin the process, break up the rhythm, and take time away from other things.
I think brewing will turn out to have its own rhythm. It’s a longer process, requiring about 5-6 hours and a minimum of 4 weeks from brewing to drinking, but it also provides a greater yield, with about 22 litres of beer from each brew. As with the home-roasted coffee, the home-brewed all grain beer is very high quality relative to commercial products, but at a significantly lower cost.
Coopers Pale Ale – the primary local beer – retails for $42.95 per carton (9 litres).
Prancing Pony Pale Ale – a good local craft beer – retails from $75.99 per carton (7.9 litres)
Both are good beers, but I’d rather drink my home-brewed Golden Ale than the Coopers Pale. The monetary cost of the home-brewed Golden Ale is about $30 for 22 litres.
Obviously it costs more in terms of time and effort, but in line with my goal of ‘a richer life on a lower income’, home-brewed all grain beer is far more rewarding, productive and enjoyable than buying beer with money earned in a pointless, existentially demeaning job. Spending time and effort in a valued, productive enterprise doesn’t feel like a ‘cost’ after all.