Go Back
Print this page

Wine + Spirits + Beer

2 Guys: Brewing Beer (Is Not as Fun as You’d Think it Would Be)


As anyone who has ever tried their hand at home brewing can tell you, it essentially comes down to boiling a bunch of stuff together in very specific levels for very specific amounts of time, and then dumping that boiled stuff into a plastic bucket, wherein yeast spends about a week eating the sugar, excreting carbon dioxide and alcohol, and turning the whole thing into beer. The specificity of the whole enterprise makes brewing beer feel a lot like baking bread, but with more water and less fun.

You see, this process is limited in its creativity.

Ian brewing beer

Ian “The Wort” Knauer, hard at work

When working from a beer-brewing kit, as we were, there exists little room for flourishes of culinary brilliance; the extent of what you’re doing is dumping a bag full of liquid barley extract into some boiling water. Indeed, the only way to get truly creative is to devise different ways of sterilizing things, because that’s what you’re going to spend most of your time doing.

“Did you sterilize that spoon?” Alan asked Ian at one point in the beer brewing process.

“Yes,” Ian replied, right before proceeding to lick some of the wort off it (for the uninitiated, “wort” is the technical beer-making term for the boiled stuff before it gets fermented).

“Did you sterilize the air lock?” Ian asked Alan at one point in the beer brewing process.

“Yes. Did you sterilize the hydrometer?”

“Which one’s the hydrometer?” asked Ian, pillaging through the seemingly endless supply of little plastic doo-hickeys that came with our beer brewing kit. “What’s this thing even for?”

“Dude, it’s so we can measure the beer’s gravity!”

At this point, our instructions informed us that we needed to remove“about 8 oz. of wort with a sanitized cup,” but that we needed to do so without actually touching the wort. This 8 oz then needed to get poured into the hydrometer test tube, and we needed to record the “specific (original) gravity.” It’s all the things like this—like sanitizing and measuring the beer’s specific (original) gravity—that suck the fun out of brewing beer. In retrospect, it’s shocking how fun it is to drink beer when it’s so un-fun to make beer.

And we’re not even done making it. As we write this, our wort is sitting in the fermenting bucket under a sink in Gourmet’s test kitchen. In about a week and half, our fermentation will be done and we can start bottling the beer. Then, after about 10 days of letting the beer carbonate in the bottle, we can refrigerate it and then, after about a day of refrigerating it, we can drink it and let you know how it is.

In the meantime, we have that week and a half to round up about 48 empty bottles that we can put the beer into. And the only way to do that is to drink 48 beers—a step, we hope, that will remind us why we did this in the first place.