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it’s just beer

Beer is simultaneously simple and complex. Do this, don’t do that and most importantly, don’t fuck it up. Steps are to be followed and the variations in sound respected.  When one drinks a beer it is about sight, smell and taste. When one brews beer it is also about how things feel and how they sound.

The depth of a keg fill is sensed by temperature change. Is the keg dome colder than the empty one? Good. It is full. Did the hissing sound change? Time to twist toggles.

Counting and recounting. Fourteen bags of pale malt. Silver scoop with a bucket straddling a zeroed scale branded with a logo sticker lovingly marking brewery territory. How many kegs precariously balanced on suspect pallets? Never enough.  Fingers are necessary for tabulations.

Gallons of water, gallons of transferred wort and temperature readings. Too hot, too cold then Goldilocks screaming just right.  Everything begs for water. Sticky malt husks from the mash tun, coaxed in a warm deluge to give up their sweet inner being, cling for dear life everywhere and to everything. Don’t slip on the floor.  Unfortunate corners leave purple marks that fade to yellow but hot stainless or chemicals leave permanent, skin altering lessons.

But beer is just that; it’s just beer.  Without the whirl wind of anxiety, the deep belly laughter of long standing inside jokes and ideas hatched over shift beers, the bruises in the presence of anxiety are painful.  The scars, marks of regret.  Basking in near exhaustion, friendships reach closer to perfect solidification, previously born from shared tribulation decorated with bruises and scars of pride, earned through shared tenacity.

Now, as these few days dwindle to a close, my head is full of things only possible through sacrificing a bit of blood and acquiring that glorious bruise. My mind grateful for the patiently taught, and retaught tasks. My soul grateful for being enveloped into the shared tribulation and learning that it’s not just beer.

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