Brew Dad: Making it a family affair

I like beer. I like beer a lot. Over the years I’ve realized that I can’t brew as much as I’d like due to the constraints of family. That’s just the unfortunate truth and I’m pretty sure that many of you homebrewers can understand where I’m coming from. So I’ve tried to devise a way that I can make room in my life for my two greatest loves.

I started very simply like many homebrewers do, with an old Mr. Beer set I was gifted. I brewed a few less-than-stellar batches of beer and even a few that were dumped down the sink drain. I was single then and lived in a small, cramped, bachelor pad and I came to the realization that these were not the perfect conditions to craft my best brews. I ended up abandoning the Mr. Beer set and turned my sights toward the bright, glorious future where all my homebrews would be their best. I thought at some point in the magical land called the future I would have more time and money and the ability to dedicate myself more to the beer. And I did . . . for a while.

I think where I started to go off track with my homebrewing is when my son was born. He is my greatest accomplishment and my biggest source of joy and I love him more than I can express in this article. But, I realized pretty early on that the carefree lifestyle that I enjoyed, even while being a husband, was changing drastically. One aspect was that my brewing was suffering . . .

I started with trying to make sure I, at the very least, got four brews in over the calendar year. Sadly for my own pride, this was not always a possibility. Then, one evening, I’m not even sure how or why, but my wife offered to help. I may have been tired but I certainly wasn’t about to look that gift horse in the mouth.

Involve the people you love in the activity you love and I bet that you make more beer and enjoy the fruits of your labor doubly.

The process flowed not only smoother but it was more fun as well. We both enjoyed ourselves and after the first brew day were excited to do it again. We’ve always cooked together, but it never occurred to us to try brewing together. It became even more fun as my son, who’s now 2 years old, got a little older and could be involved in the process as well. He can hand Daddy spoons, muslin bags, or a bag of hops. He can even use his “big strong muscles” to help Daddy move buckets and fermenters.

What started as a hobby for a single guy had become a family hobby and enjoyment for all of us. Turns out, I didn’t have to sacrifice my homebrewing. In fact, it is now way better. I get to brew now when my son is awake instead of waiting for him to go to bed. I don’t have to work around my wife’s schedule anymore, we can create a game plan together. What used to be dad’s hobby is something we now all enjoy. There is something satisfying with creating something from the ground up and doing it as a family.

Sometimes I think homebrewers like to play the role of the martyr. They like to tell you about the hours and weeks they put in on a beer or how long it takes to sanitize bottles. They pour over message boards and spend hours discussing things like temperature and specific gravity. They talk so much about the labor they forget about the love. It makes homebrewing sound like a chore or a lonely, thankless pursuit. Involve your family. Make it fun time and time well spent. Instead of trying to find the time to brew, make the time. Involve the people you love in the activity you love and I bet that you make more beer and enjoy the fruits of your labor doubly.

Issue: November 2019