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On The Beer

mark wood

by Mark Wood

Homebrew Fame

When you make your own beer, everybody knows. It’s one of the world’s worst kept secrets. People drop by and pass pleasantries just waiting ‘til you politely inquire as to their thirst, and then you get an enthusiastic, “Hoo-yeah!” or a “Guaransponge!” and the seemingly fashionable, “Whassup!”. I don’t mind a bit, after all, it’s a wonderfully hot summer.

My favourite visitors, though, are uninitiated tasters from the mainland and parts beyond. The look on their satiated bewildered faces, as they suddenly and irrevocably understand...beer! This naturally leads to some interesting circumstances.

Two Newfoundland girls (friends of my wife), one schooling in San Francisco, once bumped into each other in Montreal, and pined for the taste of my home-brew.

Friends sometimes inquire about the recipe; they figure if I can make beer, anybody can. S’true, I throw away the directions and ferment twice for 5 and 10 days before I bottle. Simple as that. Well-armed with this bit of alchemy, the b’ys seek their fame and fortune. My buddy Rod called from Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia recently, having just taken first place in a brewing competition with his brown ale.

A postcard from the b’ys in Alberta proudly announced a major home-brew foothold in their kitchen. “Come up,” they said, “there’s lots of jobs and your beer’s in the fridge.”

The best though, was my buddy Mike. He took my recipe and made beer for a few years while he finished up at MUN. He then schooled and brewed for a few years in Ontario, and whenever he was home he always stopped in. About five years after he left the province, there’s a knock on the door: it’s Mike. He’s been working in Asia, on his way to his latest job in Boston and he sarcastically inquires, “Are you still making beer?” I popped off the frosty top and Smoky Brown Thundercloud roared to life in the mug. Mike smiled, watched the bubbles, took a sip and declared, “It tastes like home.”

That wasn’t a tear in the corner of my eye; it was a bead of sweat. After all, it was a wonderfully hot summer.

Mark is also a regular columnist with The Independent (.ca) newspaper.