Brewing with the Kids: Day Five

As Burns said to his wee little mousie, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley” and today was the perfect example. Yesterday I mentioned how today would be busy but not so much as Wednesday.  I was so very wrong.  Tiffani and I left together at 8:15am to drop Eleri off at bible camp.   She then took me back to the house and went to pick up groceries while I drove Lochlainn to his annual physical.  As we wrapped up at the doctor’s office, I texted Tiffani so she could meet me at the Exxon in Worcester where I was dropping off the Jeep for some repairs and inspection.  Tiffani met me there then took me to my parents’ house where I picked up my dad’s car for the next couple of days. Apparently Peapod sent our grocery order to the wrong store and needed an hour or more to get it to the proper location, so Tiffani brought Lochlainn home and then had to go back to the grocery store.  I left my parents’ house and went back to Royersford to pick up Eleri.  Tiffani was just unloading the groceries as Eleri and I pulled up to the house around 1pm.  So to sum up, we were both driving around back-and-forth from Norristown to Royersford back to Norristown and over to Plymouth Meeting for her and the opposite direction to Lederach for me, then meeting up together in Worcester and back to Norristown and then again Plymouth Meeting for her and over to Royersford and back to Norristown for me from 8:15am to 1pm. Phew!  I’m tired again just thinking about it.

I told her we had to go right downstairs to start heating the strike water and measuring and grinding the grains because we had to leave at 3pm to take her father back to the airport.  All went well and we mashed and lautered before we had to leave.  That’s when the wheels fell off (figuratively thank God, but I wouldn’t have counted it out literally happening).  On Monday night when I picked my father-in-law up at the airport, it was about an hour-and-a-half round trip.  Traffic this afternoon was so bad in both directions that we doubled that amount…with all three kids in the van…and the youngest telling us how badly she had to pee from Manayunk until we got home (which, of course, took about 45 minutes instead of the normal 20).  Finally, a little after 6pm, Tiffani started heating the kettle up for the boil and started making dinner (homemade cheesesteaks) at the same time.  Keep in mind, I’ve enjoyed the hectic scheduling I’ve been doing the last few days and making the brewing fit my schedule instead of the other way around because I’ve been doing it for years.  Tiffani has not.  And she’s part German.  And a Marine.  Despite having three kids and two dogs and no time to get anything done she still expects order and near perfection in areas she thinks she can control.  I know, it’s cute that she thinks she can control anything anymore, but what are you gonna do?  So as the water is heating and she’s preparing the ingredients for dinner: Where are the green peppers?! I hear from the kitchen.  I turn to Liam, who put most of the groceries away: “Do you remember putting peppers away?” “Yes,” he tells me. “They should be in the crisper drawer.”  I just bought peppers today.  Where are my peppers? we hear while identifying the tone of growing annoyance.  Liam and I both jump up and head to the refrigerator to look.  Nope.  No peppers.  This is not good.

To her credit, Tiffani moved on from the pepper dilemma remarkably quickly and calmly, although I did notice a full glass of wine appearing soon after on the counter next to her.  The mushrooms and onions were sauteed and the meat was coming along nicely when I, like an idiot, walked in to remind her that she still needed to crack the coriander and zest the lemon to be added at the end of the boil.  The look I got made me feel as if she just finished mowing 10 acres with a push mower and I told her she missed a spot.  In my defense, I wasn’t trying to pile on in any way.  It is her beer and I didn’t want to interfere.  I felt at the time that the best thing I could do was to just continue guiding her through each step.  I was wrong again.  It turns out that she had reached the point where she just wanted to be done with everything, so when I offered to take over the remaining brewing steps while she finished making dinner, she readily accepted.

I added the lemon zest and coriander for her a couple of minutes before I whirlpooled and started to run cold water through the chiller.  As it chilled so did we and ate cheesesteaks and onion rings in front of the TV and watched the final hour of the final episode of “Deception.” (Personal note: I’m a little disappointed that the show was cancelled because it was an hour-long crime drama that the whole family could enjoy.) Once the show was over Tiffani and I went downstairs to rack her Witbier into the sanitized carboy.  Once everything was ready Tiffani added the yeast and I got an airlock ready.  Oops!  I didn’t think it all through when I began this venture and while I have plenty of airlocks, I was out of the stoppers we needed to seal the carboy.  No problem.  We just covered the opening in the neck with some aluminum foil.  It’s not ideal as an O2 blocker, but it keeps any little nasties from dropping in.  By the next morning a full active krausen had formed and the beer was happily fermenting away.  At this point, oxygen getting in is not a concern because the heavier carbon dioxide being released from the fermentation process created a nice protective blanket over the beer.  On Friday morning I would be near Weak Knee Homebrew Supply, so I could just pick up a couple more stoppers then, come home and replace the foil with a proper airlock.

Not surprisingly, Tiffani and I were both mentally and physically exhausted from the day’s events and collapsed into bed around 11pm.  Oh, and in case you were wondering, the damn peppers still haven’t been found.