Zymurgy – by trial and error


The weekend theme of Zymurgy made me first think about drinking the results, and then I remembered some experiences with the results of not enough knowledge in the field, or to put it more kindly, of lessons learned in the art and science of zymurgy.

As teenagers we, like most, were fascinated by the effects alcohol could have on people (and once inadvertently on the family cat). I realised I don’t like being really out of control, which may be an indication of some deep underlying paranoia (but that is the subject for other ramblings).

I remember visiting a friend’s boyfriend’s home and while we were all more or less innocently playing monopoly, including cartels and other differences to the normal game, there was a loud bang seemingly from the laundry room outside. We all rushed out to investigate; only to encounter the chap’s father seemingly wounded and bleeding rather alarmingly coloured blood. My mind rushed immediately to the possibility that this was a family of aliens.

Then we smelt him (or maybe my eyes are just closer to my brain than my nose is). Very much the smell of fermenting fruit salad left too long in the fridge.

Once we had all calmed down and the man had gone and cleaned off the muck, he explained he’d always wanted to brew his own beer, and a chap at work had brought in a wonderful brew he called pineapple beer. It being the time of year when pineapples were plentiful and cheap, he’d decided to try this. Something in the way of too much yeast, sugar or pineapple in sealed plastic buckets and the result was the extreme pressure that had blown the lid off and sent the stuff spraying around. It was just unfortunate that he had just entered the laundry room to see how his brew was progressing at the moment of the explosion.

While we were all having a calming cup of tea, there were two more explosions in quick succession. He simply sighed and said, “That will be a hell of a cleanup job tomorrow my son”.

About an hour later the family dogs began to howl mournfully. When investigation showed they were sitting outside the laundry room, we realised they had been licking up the mess, and were drunk. The pair of rather large brown dogs then proceeded to try to walk around in very weird ways, howling when they lurched and fell. They were with difficulty prevented from falling into the swimming pool.

I remember in later years having mead there that was extremely tasty, but only available in minute quantities and an apple “scrumpy” that took off your head in about two sips.

Father and son carried on experimenting happily together in this fine art of zymurgy, learning apparently by trial and error, though one could sometimes espy handwritten recipes and books on the subject in the study.

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