Thursday, December 30, 2010

Charlie Papazian

Dec 30th 2010

  I was lucky enough to get "Microbrewed Adventures" gifted to me this holiday season. Within minutes of receiving it I had leaped head first into the stories enclosed in it. Charlie has been described as the father of American microbrew. His books are great resources for the green homebrewer. In his time there wasn't Wyeast, and there wasn't local homebrew supply stores. He literally wrote the book on homebrew. Literally, if you want to read it, you can it's "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing." I picked it up because it was a used copy on sale for $2 at Powell's. What a great buy it was, and I'm glad that it was Charlie that ushered in brewing for me.
   In the Powell's coffee shop in Portland, OR I thumbed through my used copy of "The Complete Joy of Homebrewing." The author hinted that brewing was at times very frustrating. Then he would state, "Relax, don't worry, have a homebrew." I feel like he may have gotten frustrated a lot in those early days because he used the phrase a lot. I chose the nicest looking copy out of the 5 or 6 used copies sitting on the shelf. It was still fairly worn. There were no hardcover copies available. The cover was thin and bent. The paper on which it was printed had black fibers as if it was recycled paper. I considered it a good find. Now as I sat there with my drip coffee, I flipped to the section on ingredients. I still hadn't brewed. I had placed orders with many online homebrew suppliers, and I was either waiting for my brewing equipment to arrive or the equipment was in the middle of being assembled. Here I was not even a brewer yet and delving into Charlie Papazian's list of ingredients. I wondered as I read through each one what the strangest ingredient could be. Was it Ginger? Was it Coffee, or maybe hot peppers? As I read I imaged what each flavoring would be like and I kept wondering if I could ever brew so many different batches that I tried all of the ingredients that he listed. As I approached the last page of the ingredients section I came across the Cock Ale. I don't want to ruin this one for you, because Charlie is a much better writer than myself, but I will say that it refers to a rooster and that it does appear that it has been used before to flavor a homebrew. You can even try it you're self because there is a detailed recipe on how to make your very own Cock Ale in his book.
   As I sat there with my coffee getting cold and with Jen getting bored a huge grin spread across my face. I read the section out loud and immediately Jen and I had something to discuss and laugh about while we were hanging out in Portland that day. I had found a book that would guide me through the detailed technicalities of pitching yeast and all grain mashing, but more importantly I had found a book that was fun to read.
   Now 6 batches of beer later, I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me. "Microbrewed Adventures" is a great way to spend the overcast days in Seattle. There as so many ideas that come to mind while reading this book, and a little bit of inspiration comes through in Charlie's words and stories to get me motivated. I wont recap on the entire book, but I do really like one of his stories. During the Great American Beer Festival, as Charlie was handing out an award to Rogue Ales' John Meier. John said to him, "That's your recipe taken right out of your book." (Story taken from "Microbrewed Adventures")
   So rememeber if you want to win a brewing award know what the judges like, and if your judge happens to be Charlie Papazian, then you can't go wrong with one of his own recipes. Happy Brewing Everyone, and Happy Holidays.

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