Go ahead, Dad, try out that kit

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And now, the post-Father’s Day melancholy settles in.

The li’l buggers, bless their hearts, gave you – what, another necktie? A dozen golf balls? A cordless weed-whacker?

Sure, the kiddies will inevitably grow up and either get arrested or cost you a hundred grand for college. But at least you can be fairly confident that the whiners love you. After all, they gave you something you already know how to use.

There are among us, however, a confused collection of fathers who enjoy no such assurances. Last Sunday, when these unsuspecting souls peeled the Scotch tape from the wrapping paper, they were presented with the perplexing sight of large Tupperware containers, coiled hoses, bags of cereal and an assemblage of gadgets that appears to have been collected from the bottom of a drawer down at the neighborhood plumbing supply shop. These dads attempted, for the benefit of their well-meaning but obviously defective offspring, to look pleased.

But Pop could only ponder, “What the. . .?”

“It’s a beer-making kit!” the surly brood cheered.

Some dads – former felons, ex-servicemen and most males in West Virginia – already know how to make their own alcohol and thus might appreciate such thoughtfulness.

The rest might question why, exactly, they would want to spend a goodly amount of time to make something that is readily available down at the corner taproom.

That thought occurred to me the other night as I watched a potful of wort boil over the rim and flood the kitchen floor. Wort, for the uninitiated, is the malty mix of hot, bubbly liquid that, upon fermentation, becomes beer. One of the most unstable substances known to man, upon spillage it chemically bonds with any heretofore clean surface.

Beer-drinkers, of course, are notorious slobs. And as much as we’re proud of that quality, our slovenly ways do tend to make the necessary ordeal of sanitizing one’s bottles and equipment an unspeakable challenge.

Then there’s the wait – two to three weeks, at least, before you can crack open a cold one.

It’s no wonder the suds-swilling daddy – gifted last weekend with a brand-new homebrew kit – might doubt his family’s affection for him. Why would they plague him with a device that’s seemingly designed to inject hassle into the previously uncomplicated joy of downing a brew?

Well, Joe Sixpack isn’t a father, so I really can’t answer that question.

But I do – despite the hassle – continue to brew. And in my more contemplative moments, like when I catch a waft of Cascade hops rising from one of my own handmade ales, I sigh the same refrain I’ve heard whenever I’ve asked a buddy why – despite the hassles – he became a daddy:

Because it’s worth it.

Happy Father’s Day, guys.

Wondering how to use that new homebrewing kit? Some tips:

  • * Talk. Call your local homebrew shop. These guys know more about homebrewing than anybody, and they’ll usually give you quick advice, even over the phone.
  • * Read. Charlie Papazian’s “Complete Joy of Homebrewing” is an excellent starter. Zymurgy magazine is a great source for recipes, advice and equipment.
  • * Surf. The Association of Brewers (www.aob.org) is a suds-packed resource. Cats Meow (www.brewery.org/brewery/cm3/catsmeow3.html) provides hundreds of recipes.
  • * Drink. Remember the homebrews you enjoy, repeat the recipe.

Beer radar

It’s a long way to go for a beer, but if you have a hankering for Joisey beer, Waterloo Village in Stanhope, N.J., is the scene of the Garden State Craft Brewers Guild’s third annual Garden State Beer Festival tomorrow. A dozen N.J. brewers will be on hand on the banks of the Morris Canal in the state’s scenic north-central region. Info: 973-347-0900. . .This just in: That Belgian dioxin scare – the one that poisoned the food supply and threatened to turn everyone in Brussels into cancer-ridden zombies – has not infected, according to research sponsored by the impeccably impartial Confederation of Belgian Brewers, the nation’s beer.

Joe Sixpack (written this week with a bottle of Tupper’s Hop Pocket) appears every other Friday.


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