Thanksgiving, 2009; in the home of karma debt and mordel; in the presence of them and theirs, JetGirl, RoguePoet, as well as other noders whose handles I forget and one or two non-noders. Absolutely wonderful people, every last one.
We all take turns voicing our gratitude. I am enjoying a glass of stout, one of the dozen or so new stouts I discovered at the local co-op-like store. After the older of their daughters speaks, Mordel points out that it's my turn. "I would like to give thanks to beer and the path it has given me in life," I proclaim. br>
"Seriously, now." br>
"I am serious."
I knew in early 2009 that I wanted to become a professional brewer. I became so entranced with the profession that I changed gears entirely. I had quit the electronics engineering technology program and began taking courses required to gain entry to UC Davis' Master Brewers Program. Actually, all it entailed was taking some biology. I dreaded biology, until I got into class. My professor's instruction was top-notch and I waltzed through the course. I could, off the top of my head, name the stages and features of each stage in mitosis. Another course, two quarters later, in upper division microbiology. Another spectacular professor, one who knew how to educate. She was a homebrewer earlier in life, too, which put us on solid ground together. I didn't excel in her course, but considering my utterly lacking biology background, I did very well.
Only, then I wanted a microbiology degree as much as I wanted my IBDE certification. This threatened to derail me, but what really did it was this: Every program at school was another false start. There is no microbiology education beyond microbiology. A bit of genetics, yeah, but not much else.
A week or so ago, I was discussing with a confidant my life issues. She asked in the most naive, but intense way, "Do you need the certification to brew professionally?" It seemed so obvious, up to that point, that the answer was yes. It hit me like the proverbial bag of bricks, though. It was a question I hadn't seriously considered answering with, "No," until she asked it. p>
I tried to think of a reason I would need it. I needed to be able to know off-flavors! No, the Bellingham Homebrewers Guild runs an off-flavors course each year - just sign up for it. I wanted to learn the pathways present in yeasts. Again, there are ways of learning them without shipping off to Davis, CA for 6 months. Packaging! Just go down to the local brewpub and beg to volunteer. Legal bits - have to hire a lawyer for those anyways. Recipe design - not taught in the program. Heat transfer - not terribly useful at the batch size I would like to start at. If there was a point, it was a moot point (only applied to larger breweries) or it was something I could work out on my own, without another $10,000 in student loans.
I was inspired. My dreams will become my reality at a pace I couldn't have imagined even weeks ago. I'm terrified, elated, surprised, relieved, and ready. Most of all, ready. Within two years, I will be opening a brewery. You're all welcome to come visit.