If you've come here via McArthur's blog post: Beer, Bohemianism, and True Christian Liberty, then please first read my post below and then consider reading my response — Judgement, Hubris, and True Christian Maturity.
A few weeks ago some friends and I finally decided to the pull the trigger. We would no longer settle for drinking the local piss-water beer and would brew on own. Now if we lived in America it would be easy enough to trot on down to our local homebrew shop (of which there are a surprising many) and purchase a starter kit. However we don't live in America.
Homebrewing in America (according to my understanding) actually usually consists of buying a pre-made syrup which you add to water and then pitch some yeast and get beer. The process for us was a little different. While we live in a third-world country, we do live in an age of globalization. In a time with a glorious thing called the internet. So on to said internet we hopped, and found there is a man in another city in this country who studied in America and learned to brew beer there. He actually teaches people in this country to brew beer, and he had most everything we could need right online.
So we bought a massive bag of barley, and a small bag of hops. We bought a bottler and caps, airlocks etc... It's actually a little surprising how much junk is necessary to get started when you cant buy it pre-made. My friend who headed up the process of getting everything we needed, even purchased a big cooler (the gatorade type you dump on a coach after a football game) and mounted an elevated screen in the bottom and fixed it up with a fancy industrial spout for making our wort (pronounced wert, it's the sugary liquid you get from steeping the grains).
We boiled massive amounts of water and soaked our malted barley according to instructions we found online. Unfortunately we had an equipment breakdown (already solved in time for our second batch) and had to hand sift the wort out of the malted barley. Then we boiled it, added hops, and put it in a carboy (fancy name for a big container to hold the fermenting wort), we aerated it, pitched an ale yeast, plugged in a rubber stopper with an air stopper, and crossed our fingers.
Last night three of the four of us sat down to open our first bottle of the heavenly concoction from our batch. One member of the brewing group was on a bus out in the middle of nowhere heading out to train minority church leaders. We got ahold of him on a cell phone and had him stand up in the bus (being the only white guy on the bus mind you), open his beer along with us, and give us a rating. He dropped his cell phone and ended up crawling around on the floor looking for it with beer in his hand. Meanwhile, we sat comfortably on couches and tasted the first of what is sure to be much more beer to come. And it was fantastic.
Apparently the stuff only gets better with time too.
I've been thinking for weeks about what kinds of parallels I can draw between brewing and my walk as a Christian. But I just cant find anything worth writing about. The truth is, the only thing I can think about when I'm brewing is how much fun I'm having brewing. I'm rejoicing over the community I have with my friends. I'm rejoicing over the complexity of the process and how we have to watch every detail from the color, to the time, to the temperature, to sanitation. And I praise the Lord for barley. For hops. For the first moron who happened to accidentally get them together in a liquid form and throw in yeast. For the millions of brilliant people who have followed that moron and perfected the process.
I thank God for the internet. Because without it we would not have beer. Drinkable beer that is. Technically this country does make it's own beer, but it's shockingly bad. Budweiser is the BEST option here. And that's sad. But now our own brand is the best option. And frankly, it's very good.
Praise the Lord for beer.
I think more missionaries should brew beer. And for no other reason than beer is delicious, and it's a blast to brew. Here's to hoping we glorify our Creator in enjoying His delicious creation.