Home Brewing – a “SHAREd” passion

Home Brewing – a “SHAREd” passion
By James Vincent, V.P. & Dir. of Conference Operations

I brew the beer I drink. You may have seen that quote on a car bumper sticker at some point and that is a phrase I can relate to because I am a home brewer. What does this have to do with SHARE? You may be surprised so relax, have a home brew, and read on!

Mentioning home brew beer to people produces a variety of reactions from fascination and true interest to the scrunched up nose followed by a “ewww!” I have to admit, I was one to turn my nose up to it many years ago because I really didn’t understand the art and certainly didn’t know what to look for in a good home brew. Those few home brews I tried long ago were – well – really bad. But home brewing is not only an interesting hobby but for some people, it can turn into a new adventure to the point of trying their hand at opening a micro brewery. Some brewers you may recognize, Brooklyn Brewery, Dogfish Head, New Belgium, and Sierra Nevada just to name a few all started as home brewers and they make some pretty awesome beers!

I started brewing many years ago when my best friend bought me a “kit” to make wine. I can’t say I really made wine although I tried. It was more of a liquid that resembled wine – kind of. The process takes a very long time and to do it right everything from start to finish has to be nearly perfect. I’m not that patient and even if I was, I just didn’t have the knack for it. I can honestly say I fail at wine making and it is now on my list of things that I know I am not good at. I am usually not afraid to try things that I am not familiar with - even trying Ethiopian food (thanks Marty Zimelis!) I also know when to throw in the towel for things I am not good at or don’t like, such as mudding drywall, drawing pictures beyond stick figures, landscaping, home décor, wine making, Ethiopian food (sorry Marty!), along with many others!

Wine making bit the dust for me but the same equipment I had could be used to brew beer so I thought, why not? My first attempt was with a simple kit of ingredients and in less than two weeks, I had five gallons of beer all bottled. A couple of weeks later I tried one and surprisingly it looked, smelled and tasted like beer! It was a very simple ale and comparable to something you’d find on tap almost anywhere in great quantities. Not a lot of character nor complexity but it was beer and I MADE IT! I offered this brew to a few close friends and family knowing they would be brutally honest with me if they didn’t like it. To my amazement they enjoyed it and that began my fascination with home brewing.

I have since been brewing a plethora of different styles of beer from the light and “quaffable” summer brews to the more complex and pallet-challenging dark brews. This summer I have a Kölsch style that is delicious and easy-drinking and a Crème Brûlée Milk Stout which is dark and complex yet smooth. I also have a few other non-beer brews such as my Holiday Spice-Cake Mead which is a maple syrup, honey and molasses brew that is very bubbly, tasty and has an unexpected wallop! I also have a nice crisp home brew cider that is currently finishing up the secondary fermentation and will be ready soon.

Now how does home brewing have anything to do with SHARE? Remember our catch-phrase, SHARE – is not an acronym, it’s what we do!  I have found that home brewing gives me the opportunity to share the brew I make with others. You see, this is something that drives and encourages me all the time – to be able to make or do something that others can enjoy or use. Home brewing, programming, baking, cooking, woodworking, even my successes and failures with IT - they all can be shared with others and if done right, people will ask for more. How cool is it to give a presentation at SHARE and have people stop you after the session to ask more questions, get your contact info or snag you in the hall or at the receptions to talk more? It is as cool as pouring a home brew for someone, even a complete stranger, and having them truly enjoy it and ask for more. It confirms that the hard work put into creating it was worth every minute it took to make.

SHARE has been the best place I’ve seen fellow peers in Enterprise IT share their experiences in a truthful and transparent manner in order to help others succeed. That exchange of information has enabled so many people to actually enjoy their job (at least sometimes!) by avoiding pitfalls and having the details they need to get their tasks done quicker and easier. SHARE, like good home brewing, is one of many ways to provide something that people want, will like and they will come and ask for more!

Now relax, have a home brew! If you’d like to hear more about my home brewing and maybe even have a chance to try some, look for me at SHARE in Pittsburgh August 3-8, 2014!  I encourage you to go to the Thursday craft brew reception (yes, the brew theme idea was my contribution). Since it is SHARE after all, you will find me talking with of any of the brewing reps that are on site so that I can pick up ideas and tips from the experts.

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