The United States has an estimated 1 million homebrewers, according to the American Homebrewers Association. That's just slightly under the estimated number of nutjobs in the U.S. who have run a marathon. No word on what the Venn diagram of those two looks like, but I know that there's at least one intersection between the two datasets because I live and brew with him: my spouse Doug. He and I have been homebrewing for a couple of years, and we're about to get on a plane so Doug can run his second marathon.
Even though the two activities seem pretty unlike each other--the payoff for one is a 26.2-mile slog while people scream at you; the payoff for the other is being able to sit in front of the TV in your underwear while you scream at people--they have similarities. Both can be intimidating and incomprehensible to the uninitiated. (You want me to run how far? What the hell is trub, and why should I care?) Both require planning, time, and a hefty investment in equipment. And both can sometimes make you want to cry. (If you've ever done a 22-mile training run in the middle of July or infected a batch of beer such that the finished product smelled like fruity paint thinner, you know what I mean.) But, ultimately, both bring a sense of accomplishment: "Hey, I just ran 15 miles at 7m30s per" has the same sweet ring as, "Hey, my IPA tastes better than most of the ones I can buy at the store."
The reason for this PopSci.com column is twofold. First, I want to help demystify and exalt beer. There has never been a better time to be a beer fanatic. But there's also a lot of B.S. out there--confusing terms, newfangled names and styles, and some truly regrettable beers. I have personally brewed at least one myself.
Second, I want to sweet-talk more
suckers intrepid souls into trying homebrewing for themselves. I'll be posting about beer, because that's what I like to drink, but once you have the basics, you can ferment whatever you want to: honey, fruit juice, the squeezings of twigs and berries. As long as there's fermentable sugars in the mix, Saccharomyces will turn them into ethanol and carbon dioxide. I'll post recipes and pictures (sometimes of my cats) and, occasionally, interviews with people I can cajole into talking to me on the phone. I'll talk grains. I'll talk hops: varietals and alpha-acid isomerization and the crazy experimental stuff they're growing in Oregon. And I will, of course, talk about the science of brewing. I may or may not be drinking a homebrew when I do all of this. Hopefully, by the sixth or seventh week, some of you will be drinking your own homebrew while reading it. I'll leave the running advice to someone else.
Next week: a recipe for Marathon Ale
as a relatively new (since 2009) homebrewer fascinated by the science of brewing (and the art) i just had to create an account to tell you how excited i am about this endeavor. can't wait.
Here's your Venn diagram! I've been concocting all-grain brews in my manhattan apartment since 2008 (am brewing a spicy winter ale as I type this) and am running my first marathon in November (NYC). I'll be sure to check back in....
I think I've found a contributor to PopSci I will actually look forward to hearing more from.
Another Venn intersect point registering. Your article was forwarded by a friend who knew I do both. Did 10 marathons in 2011 and will end up with around 6 plus one ultra this year. Have been brewing since around 2002. Currently in the fermenter is a Westvleteren 12 clone I plan to enter in competition in January. I have both synergies and competition going on with these two hobbies. The competition comes from "Do I brew this weekend or get that 22 mile training run in?". I have not yet been successful doing both (I'm a masher, not extract brewer - takes more time and energy). But on the synergistic side, carbohydrate loading and replaceing those calories burned is alot easier with good homebrew than with a low calorie brew.
I'm a homebrewer and also have an investment in my health. I am happy that we are finally becoming/awakening/warming-up to the idea of both because they hold such great potential and enjoyment.
Thank you all for the kind comments. It's great to see some more homebrewers (and runners) out there. Last weekend was the marathon, and this week and weekend will be a rack/brew/bottle extravaganza. Never a dull moment, which is how we like it.
Beyond9 -- I suspect the Chronoguard axed the Looper article for future-security purposes. If the author disappears from the office, we'll know for sure. Unless, of course, they erase our memory of him as well.