I am an avowed introvert. I am drawn to technical interests, hobbies and passions. The attraction explains why I first became enthralled by home brewing. More recently, I’ve realized that my favorite hobby affords me other benefits as an introvert.
I love sharing my home brew. I am gratified by people’s enjoyment of my hard work. The act of sharing is often a very social moment. Even though I am an introvert, I do enjoy spending time with friends and making new acquaintances. The specifics of my enjoyment are colored by my introversion. Giving someone home brew often sparks the kind of deeper, in the weeds discussions I enjoy as opposed to the less consequential conversations that I find draining rather than energizing.
Stan Hieronymous, well regarded researcher and author in the world of homebrewing, started an interesting experiment, a series of open invitations to beer bloggers some years ago. I learned about it a few months back when I subscribed to his and several other beer blogs in an effort to better inform my enjoyment of beer and brewing. I’ve wanted to participate but only the most recent announcement made it clear to me when and how to do so.
If you could invite four people dead or alive to a beer dinner who would they be? What four beers would you serve?
The prompt, from the man himself this time around, is a challenge given what I just explained about my social inclinations. Or so I thought until I remembered the realization I shared with you about the less obvious, personal benefit of home brewing.
On to the question. The temptation, of course, is to mine the world of beer for obvious choices, people like Stan or his contemporaries like Randy Mosher, John Palmer, and so many others. I actually hope to get a chance to meet many of the current lights of this community in the coming years. Besides, nothing about the idea for this session limits it to just fellow beer folks.
Thinking about the full texture of my enjoyment when sharing beer, I like the idea of going very wide with my answers. I love bolstering my existing friendships through beer. In the last couple of years, as I’ve taken my hobby more seriously, my sharing has become more adventurous. I’ve earned a few new friendships this way. Why not swing for the fences if the field of potential invitees includes literally anyone, currently with us or passed form this earth?
My first invitation would go to Alan Watts. Over the years, I’ve drawn great solace and insight from his writings and lectures. When I do express my spirituality, his thoughts tend to cover my beliefs and aspirations pretty much perfectly.
I’ve recently re-subscribed to the feed of his archived lectures. I am reminded of just how charming a speaker he is. I know from personal experience that doesn’t always translate into ordinary conversation but I sincerely hope it would. Even if I only encouraged him into lecture mode with a pour of my Foreign Country or Undeserved Praise best bitters, I think that still would be an evening well spent. Such easy drinking beers are a natural companion to long, rambling discussions. The rye bitter in particular I hope would inspire a smile for the unexpected spicy bite in the midst of the approachable balance.
Another passion my introversion has led me to is, unsurprisingly technology. When I was young I had an insatiable thirst for learning about technology. The older I grow, the less patience I have for gadgetry and the urge to the new. Happily there are many other areas of technology that remain to explore. I have discovered some of the amazing and thoughtful pioneers the field has included over the years. The one I feel I know enough about to invite to a beer dinner would probably be Alan Kay.
Kay is one of a strain of thinkers in the world of technology who clearly harbors a deep streak of humanism. His advice on the construction and utilization of technology always struck me as profound and empathetic. I suspect that should I ply Kay with a bit of my Pirate-in-Chief, the resulting discussion between him and Watts on human nature, society and how best to cultivate wisdom would be both enlightening and entertaining. I love modern Scottish ales for their surprising complexity and that even the export strength beers are not likely to impair intellectual discourse should Kay enjoy the brew enough to want a 2nd or 3rd pour.
A more recent passion of mine is music. I have been studying guitar, specifically the blues, for a little over two years. One name that sprang to mind, someone I might like to learn more about, from the man himself, is Muddy Waters. I really enjoy his music and admire his talent. I’ve seen his surviving contemporaries speak well of him in documentary after documentary. I have to imagine that offering him a pint of my True Politeness porter and a seat at the table would enliven an already fascinating conversation. I suspect he’d enjoy a well made porter for its surprising drinkability and the subtle complex it has to offer. If I am lucky, maybe he would offer me a thought or two to help my guitar playing.
Now the pressure is on. I love this list so far. I can spend an evening with any one of these three all on their own, let alone enjoy the kinds of conversations all of us together are likely to have. How do I possibly add someone else to the mix that would improve it or at least not take away?
When I first started my home brewery, Beers of a Peculiar Character, it was under a different name, Living Proof. Elements of that identity and the names of my beers have persisted despite changing the brand for personal and cathartic reasons.
Benjamin Franklin was my original inspiration in naming my home brewery. His writings and quotations remain at the top of my list for stories and ideas for naming my beers. How could I not offer Franklin some of my Cursing the Darkness stout and a seat at the table? Though I have yet to make even an experimental batch of this recipe, I suspect if I am successful with this historical inspiration, it will yield a beer full of unexpected flavor that somehow manages to come together despite how modern palates are accustomed to how these notes are usually combined.
My impression of the man is that he was both an intellectual and a lively spirit. I think he epitomizes an introvert’s ideal of someone who both has a profound depth to offer at a social occasion and the kind of manner that would make him easy, even pleasant, to approach.
My only hope is that my offerings of beer would tempt such great people to the table and perhaps overcome any conversational deficit I might end up owing in such amazing company.