A few weeks back, I broke the news that Rock Bottom Head Brewer Meg Evans and I were teaming up to brew the Pittsburgh Craft Beer Network’s first-ever collaboration beer. And since I already told that story, I don’t want to repeat myself…so you can check that out here.
So, as I mentioned in that feature, brewing this beer with Meg was my first dive into the world of brewing. I’ve been blogging/promoting beer, bars, breweries, and other libation-centric stuff for over two years and have been drinking these glorious products even longer than that. But I’ve never been part of the actual hands-on creation. On any level. Until now. Here are some of my takeaways from my first brewing experience.
First off, brewing ain’t easy. And I never once thought it was. But having watched and participated in the process from start to finish now, what these men and women do every day to put a quality product in our glass is incredibly admirable and extremely underrated. They clock in early, sometimes before some of our commutes to work begin. They sweat like hell over a boiling whirlpool. They clean and clean and clean some more. They quality-check meticulously to ensure the product is on point. They take notes throughout the process so they can replicate the beer in the future and/or make adjustments where needed. They push through occasional equipment issues so schedules and beer releases aren’t compromised.
In other words, they work their asses off. Period.
Next, I’ve heard some brewers joke about their jobs being comparable to a glorified janitor because they spend most of their day cleaning. I can see why they feel this way. Whether watching while Meg, Gibb, and Adam performed sanitation steps or participating myself by scrubbing Irresistible Force’s fermenter or cleaning the spent grain out of the mash tun, a large chunk of the day was cleaning. Creating the perfect environment for beer to be born. But it was fun. Because it was required. All part of the process. Plus, the group dynamic made it enjoyable as well. Whether brewers are conversing with one another, breaking each other’s balls, or jamming out to their favorite music, cleaning is all part of the passion that goes into making this art form so enjoyable. I can’t speak for all the professional brewers out there, but I doubt many of them are thinking about how they had to hose down the whirlpool when they see the smiles their finished product brings to people’s faces.
Moving on: Brewing is a blast! I think it has a lot to do with the people you work with. And, like any other profession, if you love what you do…it feels a lot less like work. Brewing has this caveat. But let’s be realistic…it has its rough points as well. Not every day is rainbows and bright lights. Not everything goes exactly like it was drawn up. It’s challenging. But the challenge can also make it worth doing. Like I said, these guys and gals work their asses off and they deserve all the props in the world for aspiring to get better and better at what they do each and every day.
My final takeaway is this: We live in a pretty critical world. We have several platforms at our disposal that make sounding off about something we hate very easy. And those opinions are seen by a myriad of others. It’s absolutely OK to express an opinion and it’s just as OK to not like something. But as you put finger or thumb to keypad to tear down the beer in front of you, remember…while it may not be your preference or something you enjoy, someone worked very, very hard to make it real. And chances are, it could make someone else very happy. If nothing else, go beyond the “meh” review and give some feedback that may lead to improvements down the road. Contribute to the growth of craft beer. Your brewer will thank you for it.
About Irresistible Force
OK, the beer name. Most people know I’m a total wrestling geek and have been since I was a little kid. The late, great Gorilla Monsoon first coined the phrase (in terms of wrestling) “It’s the irresistible force meeting the immovable object” when Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant clashed at Wrestlemania III at the Silverdome in Detroit in front of 93,000+ fans. This phrase remained in Monsoon’s playbook for the rest of his career whenever two behemoths met in the squared circle.
I always thought Irresistible Force would make a kick-ass beer name, so there you have it. I never applied it to a certain style and pretty much assumed it would be an IPA of some variety because IPAs are my preference. But when Meg and I started throwing ideas around for this collaboration, the thought of Oreos and a milk stout fit that “irresistible” tagline perfectly. I mean, c’mon…who hasn’t succumb to the power an Oreo wields at least once in their life?
With that, and all the hard work mentioned above, Irresistible Force is officially a beer. And we invite you down to Rock Bottom TONIGHT starting at 6:00pm to enjoy this brand new creation flowing from Rock Bottom’s Nitro Tap. We also invite you to bring some Oreos to the party to pair with your beer. Personally, I’ll be bringing a couple varieties to pass around…but don’t let that stop you from bringing your favorite variety. The more, the merrier!
This has been a very cool experience and, again, thanks to Meg, Gibb, Adam, Anthony, and everyone at Rock Bottom for letting me be part of the creation of Irresistible Force. I’m looking forward to everyone checking it out tonight and beyond. Please tag any photos you post on social media with #IrresistibleForce and tag Rock Bottom and PCBN as well. Thanks in advance!
Here are some photos from the brew day: