Monthly Archives: May 2011

avast, me hearties

As this journey gets going, I find myself leaning on themes built of wooden ships and holding fast…occasionally it feels more like a paper boat sent down a swollen gutter, somehow finding it’s way into my son’s hands again.  We are definitely afloat…just eating our limes cautiously as we scan the horizon.  The sun shines, and at night I think about laying my head on my newest purchase, my 401K pillow.  It wasn’t on sale.  In fact, just the opposite!  The surcharge (obviously) didn’t stop Staci & I from our retail therapy session concerning our lives; we decided that sometimes a good nights’ sleep is the most important thing in the world.
Oddly (or maybe not), we haven’t busted it out of all the fancy and confusing packaging yet.  While my 401K pillow looks all big & soft right now, I know the depreciation factor on this particular type of bedding is pretty high.  Ours is piled with only the finest downy undersides of The Market.  Anyway, enough talk of such poor bedmates.  I’ll include all of the governmental red tape here as well, only to say that the process is dragging because this brewery is confounding in all the best ways, truly!

News from The Ale Apothecary:
*Kettles arrived!
*7th yeast trial accomplished!
*Obtained our first 4 oak barrels!
*Obtained stainless vessels that shame my home R&D system!

2 of the oak barrels I received from Deschutes Brewery as my parting gift.  How perfect.  The barrel heads are decorated with the signatures and well-wishes of many a fellow co-worker and pub patron.  These will become our first and storied sour barrels, housing billions of micro-friends for years to come.   The other two I received from John Davidson at Wineworks Oregon (see previous post).  While I was over in the valley, I picked up the stainless steel tanks as well taking advantage of an opportunity.  I had just returned from the trip and unloaded all this stuff into our brewage, our gabrewery…it’s not one or the other right now.  Staci located the new home for our washer and dryer (in a closet) and the pile of the dregs that we just can’t get rid of is migrating towards the door as the brewery expands it’s chest.  As I let the brewery breathe a moment, I received a phone call from an old friend.  Anders Johansen, who I brewed with at Deschutes YEARS ago was calling.  We chatted it up on the phone a bit as we’ve been out of touch; I shared the current state of my family, he chewed on the idea of modeling for Depends Undergarments as a retirement gig.  With the small talk out of the way, he mentioned the real reason he was calling: Did I want a couple of Groen commercial kettles for this brewery I was building?  Plop.  Just like that.  Serendipitous almost doesn’t do it justice.  We had worked at Deschutes 12 years ago, walking past these very kettles that Mark Henion (now one of Ninkasi’s Beer Gods) had gotten a hold of for a pilot system.  Well, he never used them and Anders ended up storing them in his dad’s barn for a decade, never getting around to using them with his distilling operation, Dolmen (see link below).  Boy, was I patient.  Hopefully with a little attention and robot dancing, these babies will fire right up.  Thank you Mark & Anders…

At this point in time, I’m hoping that all this talk of turning our garage into a brewery has you thinking about how amazing Staci is (especially when you consider the size of our house).  Since I am her biggest fan, let me share with you a bit more of the story.  When we ‘purchased’ this property (it doesn’t feel like I own it…) we held down 2 mortgages to within weeks of having to say, “Well, we tried.”  We just made it.  After selling our house in town (and spening every bit our our gains), we were totally broke and we had our slice of Oregon Wonderland.  For 10 months, through the biggest winter in recent memory, pregnant with Sahalie and mothering a 2 year-old Spencer, she lived as a pioneer housewife as we built our house (we had just sold our lovely remodel).  We couldn’t afford to pay rent anywhere while we did this, so we lived in the only existing structure on the 2.5 acres.  The cabin is by the creek (where she gathered our water) and is totally heated by a woodstove (no insulation).  We had no running water (think dishes & baby baths here) and we bailed twice by canoe when the creek flooded, carrying our computer and artwork with us.  At the height of the winter, there was 80 inches of snow on the ground and we parked our van up the hill on the paved road (think laundry and groceries now).  I brought home the bacon and worked on our house, yes, but my girl lived in the previous century while I did this.

Now it doesn’t seem such a stretch for me to turn our garage into professionally weird brewery, does it?