Ryanself's Blog


Doing Manly Man Things
July 16, 2009, 2:21 pm
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I used to bartend at this little restaurant up in Arlington, Va. The owner was one of those guys never knew really existed until I met him – he could do ANYTHING. Except figure out computer stuff, but actually saw that as a plus for him. He would build the furniture for his family’s house, he did all his own gardening (complete with beds and irrigation), he hunted, he painted, he was a spectacular cook, he did pretty much everything well that declared “this is what men were supposed to be learning how to do while we were all filing TPS reports and attending productivity seminars.”

Yesterday at my job, I got to feel that way for a few hours. I disassembled, cleaned and reassembled a beer fermenter tank (involving valve assemblies and gaskets and such), hauled kegs around, and generally did things that involved big wrenches and clamps and grunting (boy, did that come out wrong). I came home, told the wife I was feeling rugged and ordered her ass to the bedroom. At least that’s how I tell the story.

The new gig isn’t perfect. It’s a startup company, for one, so there’s always the threat that it won’t even exist in a year. They pay is just OK and there’s no benefits (thank you previous company for paying those for eight more months, thank you Obama for the massive handout. Umm, now stop with those please). But it’s an awesome start. At the end of the day I came home with two growlers of beer (perks of the job) and a book on brewing to expedite my learning the craft. And the first time I tell someone, “How’s that beer? I made it.” Well…that’s going to be a pretty awesome day. And most likely a hazy one. Glug glug.



Living the Dream
July 14, 2009, 10:45 pm
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First day at work at the brewery. Now, I’ve been warned that this is not a glamorous gig, but my first task was to scoop out the spent grain from the previous batch. See, the liquid goes through this big tank, then through a false bottom, leaving spent grain that is basically just teaming with bacteria and smelling plenty ripe. I was handed a shovel and a wheelbarrow and told to get rid of it – and I loved it.

Do you hear this, people – I was basically told, “Here, scoop up all this disease” – and it was totally fine.
Knowing this, try to wrap your mind around how much my last job must have sucked.

So, that was my morning, but it’s also acknowledged by everyone involved as by far the worst part of brewing beer. It’s all labor, mind you, but that’s the particularly dirty and arduous part. I spent the rest of the day cleaning kegs (the machine looks like one of the evil Transformers) and basically just learning the brewing process from a guy who I swear could start a brewery tomorrow and have a batch of gold-medal beer by nightfall. And, he has a Vermont accent – it’s like Canadian, but more soothing than enraging. Good dude.

Did I mention that my boss was a longtime corporate bigshot who basically said “well, this life can go screw,” traveled around the country in an RV and then one day decided “Charlotte needs a brewery.” In other words, the man is in it for all the right reasons. He loves his product, he loves watching people enjoy it, he loves coming home from work not wanting to stick a shotgun in his mouth. He’s basically me, but 10 years older and far taller and better looking.

So, I like my job. My coworker tells me he has lost 15 pounds since he started there, since the brewery is hot and hell and it’s real labor. However, he’s still working at a brewery…not ballooning up to Rosie O’Donnell size is damn impressive, much less losing weight. I like that little side perk.

Like most jobs, mine rocks after one day.