Libations: A brewed awakening
Six weeks had passed since I stuck a Mr. Beer keg of water, wort and yeast into a drawer and hoped it would magically turn into an alcoholic beverage. It was time to bottle this concoction.
But when I opened the drawer I was greeted with a pungency so thick I had to wash my clothes and hair to get the molecules of stank out.
The “shatterproof” (see: plastic) keg had sprung a leak somewhere around its seams, and now a white and gray mold was sprouting an ecosystem in the drawer. It was hard to imagine I was actually planning on putting some version of this into my body (not that it would deter me from future consumption).
Dejected that my science experiment had failed, I wiped up (most of) the mess and went to the Grog Shop for a six-pack and a night ahead of wallowing.
I texted the news to my dad, who also had been brewing his own batch of Mr. Beer. “I’m coming to Aspen next weekend,” he replied. “And I’m bringing a few bottles!”
When he arrived, he placed in my fridge four 16 oz. containers with “Larry’s Light Lager” (he loves alliteration) Sharpied on the label.
“We need some glasses to get the full aroma,” he said. I put my Ray Bans on while he searched through my cupboards. “No, you big dummy. Where are all your glasses? Do you just leave them in the dishwasher?”
We poured our drinks. It certainly smelled like beer. The color was a little more yellow than I generally like to see in my beverages, but it appeared fairly close to an Icehouse, my dad’s brand of choice (and of which he also brought a 30-rack). I took a sip and smacked my lips like a camel, which I found fully opens the palate. Its flavor was like beer but had a twinge of aftertaste. Dad swore it was a “hint of fruit,” but I hypothesize it was something funky as a result of the carbonation drops inserted during the bottling process. He also disclosed the keg may not have been at the ideal temperature during fermentation.
Overall, I was no longer too disappointed that my batch exploded like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from “Ghostbusters.” I gave Dad my spare equipment so he could drive my mom crazy with multiple rigs producing two-star beer at once and taking up shelf space. Regardless, as the Del Shannon song goes, hats off to Larry for making it his mission to share with me an evening with a Neil Diamond impersonator fueled by the proclivities of home-brewed beer.
“Without any exception the worst snow storm known since the advent of the railroad west of Leadville has been raging over the crest of the continental divide since last Thursday,” asserted the Aspen Tribune on January 31, 1899.