Gifts for the Beery People in Your Life
May 8, 2011

I’m sure you have coworkers, friends and relatives who share your love of beer.  What do you buy them for their birthday or as a thank you or just a dude-you’re-awesome present, besides more beer?  I’ve carefully combed the hand-made Emporium of Etsy to find the best beer-related gifts from small makers.   Here is a hand selected array for yourself or your beer peeps.  May you never be without a beer related gift idea again.

A Community Brewer
May 7, 2010

Bob Tower, brewer behind the Echo Park Private Brewery

This month’s Beer Blogging Session is hosted by The Hop Press and they’ve chosen collaboration as a topic.

The most obvious approach is perhaps to discuss micro-brewery collaborations between BrewDog and Mikkeller or other joint ventures that create a buzz in the beer world.

But that would have nothing to do with how I came to beer, which was through a different kind of collaboration.  There is a vibrant arts and d0-it-yourself, indie community of creative people in Los Angeles and one locus of this community was The Echo Park Private Brewery, or Bob and Edie’s home. There was always some new and amazing brew on– from Malt Liquor to Mead and fascinating combinations in between. Bob would  send out humorous and informative emails detailing the style and process.  He has turned hundreds of people on to beer and brewing, and I’m one of them.

Bob sees beer as a collaboration with the drinker, with artists and other brewers.  He has made beer as part of international art installations where participants designed the beer labels– each one different, hand made and sewn. This beer was given away at art openings and community events across Holland.

One of my fondest memories of those nights drinking beer with other artists, writers and community organizers in Bob & Edie’s kitchen was the Chicha night, where we tried to help Bob prepare the maize for the traditional South American fermented beverage.  There were about fifteen of us chewing the maize, rolling it into little balls and flattening it to dry.  (The enzymes in saliva break down the starch into maltose.)  So what if that brew didn’t exactly turn out?  We were all doing it together, part of a big experiment, and it put me in mind of what brewing might have been like when it was a community endeavor marking the seasons.

Sometimes I wonder what the Echo Park Private Brewery could do with a huge influx of capital.  What if Bob Tower’s beer could be available on a larger scale?  His clever vision and mastery of the craft could be shared by many more drinkers.  In the meantime, he has used local resources and creative alliances to continually reinvent what he brews.  Echo Park is indeed lucky to have its own community brewer.

Brewing by Candlelight
January 17, 2009

Last night I brewed my first beer with Bob. In the dark.

It’s a mild, and because we embrace irony we’re calling this low gravity beer Blackout Mild.

You see, right as the wort started to boil, the lights went out all over Echo Park.  We had to do the rest by the light of two stubby little candles. Originally Bob had suggested we call the beer 28 Days Later Mild because he had devised the process to last the month-long duration of my trip here.

You don’t think about light until you have to do without it.  The yellow candlelight shifted the shadows of the normally bright kitchen, and the neighborhood cat kept coming in and jumping beside me, startling me.  Worrying over the steaming wort I felt like a witch at her cauldron.

Later we started freaking ourselves out saying it was the 28 Days Later Mild, whispering, “Turn out the light!” lest the infected find us.  And, why yes, we were drinking Bob’s home brew at the time, a delicious American Pale Ale.  Thanks for asking.

We woke up this morning to electricity and the joy of a bubbling air lock. Glory to the micro-organism!

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