The year was 1994, Arlington, Texas was home, working for Greyhound Bus Lines, when a co-worker, Sonny introduced me to home brewing. Not knowing much about beer, his home brewed, Rattlesnake Ale was excellent, compared to what I was drinking at the time. Since I can’t recall any of the brands, it’s obvious none of it really stood out as exceptional. In fact, this was the first time I was ever offered a home brew beverage. It was that ale that changed how I thought of beer.
Moving back to California and working in Los Angeles early in 1995, I rented an apartment with a good friend, fellow private pilot and United Airlines co-worker. It wasn’t long after I found a local home brew store in Torrance, California and stopped in one day. Shades of the taste and complexity of the Rattlesnake Ale, Sonny gave me, I wanted to try my hand at brewing. After inquiring and asking questions, I walked out with a load of brewing gear and a cherry wheat beer kit. This recipe kit because I wanted something with a Samuel Adams type flavor.
While the Internet was available, I was still an AOL user and rarely started the browser to stray into this vast unknown. Even so, I would venture a guess that information on brewing your own beer was limited. Following the instructions, I recall setting up in the kitchen, as the entire process was long, rather complex and messy. In the end I bottled two cases of the cherry wheat beer and let it ferment. Unfortunately, I was not impressed with the flavor once it I chilled and popped the cap on the first beer. The second attempt I vaguely remember, in fact can’t recall the kit I purchased, but it remained bottled when I moved back to San Diego. My dreams of home brewing died with that second batch.
The increase in craft brewing has reignited my interest in trying my hand at home brewing again. While enjoying the variety of craft beer we see in California, it’s a different world when you become the brewer. I’ve also had the opportunity to taste beers from Indiana and Vermont and places in between, which rank near the top when we talk best beers in American. The last few years, I’ve taken a real interest in craft beers, starting with hometown favorites from San Diego. Couldn’t ask for a better city with strong ties to craft brewing!
That has led to seeking out new and unique craft beers, visiting local pubs and breweries, as well as purchasing and trading beers online. There has never been a better time to be a connoisseur of craft beer. As of May, 2018, “there are about 5,600 craft brewing companies, operating from 6,622 locations.” Staggering numbers for beer drinkers looking to take craft beer to a new level.