I create context. I also write blog posts:

Brewin’ Beer

Posted: April 28th, 2012 | Author: | No Comments »

Seven o’clock in the morning is too early for beer. Well, for drinking beer, at least. But when my alarm went off at that hour yesterday morning, I got out of bed, beer on my mind. I had an appointment to spend the morning with Matt Spitz, co-founder — along with his wife, Lauri — of the Moustache Brewing Co.

We’d be brewing Moustache’s porter, one of the signature styles the brewery will serve up once everything was licensed and running. But they don’t have licenses yet, or, for that matter, a brewery. But that’s about to change.

Brewing, for now, takes place at Matt’s parents’ home on the South Shore of Long Island. There, the couple has built a brewing setup from scratch, gradually expanding into more nooks and crannies as the process becomes more sophisticated.

“This is the brewery,” Matt explained as he ushered me into a small room in the basement cramped with jugs of fermenting beer, tubes and buckets and measuring tools, and bags of different grains and malts and other ingredients. There were posters on the wall and a white “NO LITTERING OR DUMPING” sign, and behind all of the brewing materials, shelves held baseball mitts, board games, trophies, and other remnants of Matt’s childhood. As a kid, this had been his bedroom.

Now it was filled with the instruments used by someone who cares deeply about making beer. What started as a hobby in 2005 — the couple was unimpressed with having to travel into New York City to find what they call “interesting” beers on tap — has grown into a professional endeavor. They started asking a brewmaster friend questions about making their own beer, and it’s gotten bigger and better since. “It didn’t start off like this,” he said, pointing to his setup. “This is real brewing.”

We began setting up in the back yard, rinsing barrels and heating the water that would eventually extract the flavors of the mashed grains to create the Moustache porter. That’s when Matt took me to the basement, where he measured out each of the ingredients precisely — by weight, when it came to a batch this large, not by measuring cup the way you do when baking in the kitchen. He pulled the select grains from a cabinet, consulting his phone for the recipe. All of Moustache’s recipes are kept on a website designed to help homebrewers stay organized. There’s an app for that, too, but it’s not as helpful as the website.

He explained what he was doing every step of the way, and at this point, he held out a bag of caramel malt. “You should always try your ingredients first.” I took a few of the tiny morsels and crunched them in my mouth. “Now just let them sit on your tongue for a minute and let the enzymes from your saliva draw out the taste. I did, and it was sweet.

I watched Matt work through getting the entire batch ready until I had to leave around mid-morning. He was precise and patient, stopping to scrub a bucket here, fidget with a valve there. He wasn’t dabbling. He’s serious about his beer. He’s a craftsman, and he’s looking to share his passion with anyone who will listen — or drink.

A few days ago, the aspirations of the Moustache Brewing Co. announced themselves as serious, too. A Kickstarter campaign to fund the licensing process (which can take up to six months) and a new brewing location was launched. The couple hopes to raise $25,000 to get off the ground. It’s a lofty goal, but after just four days, they had crossed the $7,000 mark.

Progress is great, but they can’t relax just yet. Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition. If the entire goal is not met within their own set time of one month, the brewery doesn’t receive anything and the donors aren’t actually charged for their contributions.

By the time the Kickstarter campaign is over, the porter will have just about finished fermenting and conditioning, and I’ll be able to have a pint. Hopefully, we’ll be raising our glasses to a successful fundraising campaign, to the birth of a new microbrewery, to friends whose hobby has become a craft.

It’s beer, and even early in the morning, it’s fun. But it’s serious business, too.

A Hastily-Written Open Letter To Chris Jones

Posted: April 17th, 2012 | Author: | No Comments »

A Hastily-Written Open Letter To Chris Jones, who is shutting down his blog because people are morons.

Dear Chris:

For fuck’s sake. Some people don’t get it.

The stuff you put out there made you human. “Holy shit, Chris Jones keeps score, too? Chris Jones is disappointed when his stuff doesn’t win an award? I thought that was just me… I thought these prissy ‘professional’ (said as obnoxiously as I can) writers just had everything handed to them.”

I read your writing and I see Patrick Roy in net. He made it look easy. He was brilliant. And he was on an entirely separate planet from me.

I read your tweets and your blog posts and I see my next door freakin’ neighbor. I see a dude I work with. I see someone who’s playing the same game as me, except he’s figured out things I haven’t yet.

The stuff you put out there made you human. It made you inspiring, it made you accessible. Because unlike trying to figure out how the hell I get to whatever planet Patrick Roy is from, I can see that the struggles you go through are the same struggles I go through. I see that by pushing through them — and sometimes it’s the push that has as much an affect on the writing as it is the breaking through — I can get there too.

People on the internet will always attack things. Those attacks will hurt. And having not been in your shoes and not been attacked the way you’ve been, I can’t say whether or not I think shutting down your blog is the right move. I certainly don’t begrudge you if you don’t want to put up with it anymore.

But I can tell you this: to those of us who get what you’re trying to do, the blog was an incredible source of inspiration and gave us perspective we don’t get because too many people are beaten down by The Assholes On The Internet and now refuse to share it.

Somehow, you bridged the gap between planets. You showed us you’re human, and that the rest of us, who are also human, can get there too.

Fuck The Assholes On The Internet. What you did was awesome.



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