Onbeer.org is an all-purpose beer website. I try hard to make it both accessible to a wide range of beer drinkers and interesting for those who have more knowledge about this wonderful elixir. I also, from time to time, mention that I am a longtime homebrewer (25 years this summer!). I don’t write about it much (I think the last time was this post), but it is an active part of my beer world. I don’t get to brew as much as I would like – life is just that way – but I do make a point of brewing whenever I can.
I just finished my first brewday of 2016. It has been almost 6 months since I last had a chance to brew (I can’t brew in the winter due to my propane-powered system), and so this day was particularly anticipated. And I can safely say that not only am I about to have beer to replenish my rapidly depleting reserves, I feel like a new man.
Over the years I have found that a brew day has huge mental health benefits for me. Even the thought of having a day where I have no other responsibilities, no work problems and for one day can ignore the lawn/messy basement/dripping tap without guilt, can get me feeling upbeat and excited. For me a brew day is a stress relief. It calms me and, in general, shifts my emotional space. I find in the days following a brewday I am less stressed, more able to navigate the tensions of my day job and am more at peace at home.
It is about the process. There is something therapeutic about a brewday, at least for me. It requires focus, attention to detail and a degree of physical exertion. But there is also a fair bit of down time, when all you have to do is sit and watch the mash or boil. Those are the best moments, when I can sit and contemplate life, the universe and everything. And in that moment, I find all is well with all three.
There is a reason I am a homebrewer. Decades ago I fell in love with the process: the magic of turning barley into beer, the marvel at the wonders of yeast, and the pride of knowing I can create my own version of any beer known to humankind. It continues to enthrall and exhilarate me. And it also re-centres my energy (not to get all new agey on you). After a brewday I feel more prepared to take on whatever life gives me.
For the record I brewed two beer today (I finally realized as a guy who struggles to find time to brew, doubling up my day is a huge time saver). I started with a Munich Helles and finished with what will be a Buckwheat Honey Porter (the honey has not yet been added). The day itself went like clockwork (it doesn’t always) – and frankly that is the point. I know my system intimately and so can shift into an organic, instinctive place. It helps create the therapeutic benefit of the day.
So, this post is simply a short homage to the joys of homebrewing. Drinking beer may have uncertain health benefits, but I can say without a doubt that making beer is good for your mental health. And if you agree with me, it is never too late to join your local homebrew club, such as the Edmonton Homebrewers’ Guild in my hometown (check the list of homebrew clubs in the menu on the right).