Recently I made a Pumpkin Ale. I started to brew, and while reading the directions for the third time, something dawned on me. The directions asked for me to steep about 12lbs of pumpkin, and then place the pumpkin (it was in a cheesecloth) in the bottom of the primary fermenter. No problem if you’re using a plastic bucket as your primary fermenter. However, I have a 6 1/2 gallon carboy that I use for this. The opening on the carboy is about 2 inches wide. Do the math on that one. So instead of placing the pumpkin in it’s cheesecloth in the fermenter, I had to shove it all down in there loose, so it just floated in the wort. This didn’t prove to be a problem during fermentation, but come time to transfer the beer into the secondary, it was disastrous. I was only able to get about 2.5 gallons or so out of the carboy before my hoses clogged and I was stuck.
Rather than enjoying 5 gallons of pumpkin ale for Halloween, I’ll have about half of that, and I’m not even sure if it will turn out. Hands down the worst time I’ve had brewing (and the messiest).
At first, I was pretty pissed. I had gotten up at 5am just to start brewing this beer a couple of weeks ago. I had put a lot of effort into it. And then this happens. I was not my usual chipper self after transfering it into the secondary. Usually I at least feel a sense of accomplishment. But this time I was disappointed, upset, and sad. I planned on sharing mass quantities of this beer at a Halloween party. Now I’m not sure if that will happen at all. I had high hopes for this ale. And that’s the problem.
The problem is in my attachment to what may or may not have been. Rather than just brew, and let things play out, I got all excited and anticipated something wonderful. I made up an unreasonable scenario in my head. And of course, when those expectations weren’t met, I suffered.
The next day I came to my senses, and just shrugged my shoulders about it. Maybe it will turn out and I’ll enjoy it with friends. Or maybe it will suck and I’ll have to pour it down the drain. Either way, it’s kinda out of my hands. Getting all worked up about it either way isn’t going to help things. All that will lead to is suffering. If I focus on how bad it could be, I’ll suffer right now. If I get my hopes up and then get let down by some bad beer, I’ll suffer then. And even if I get my hopes up and it turns out that the beer is fantastic, I’ll still have suffered. Why? Because rather than focus on what was happening right now, I was off in la-la land day dreaming about a future that doesn’t even exist. Creating a false reality. That’s no way to live. When I look back on the times when I dream up scenarios in my head, I always feel a sense of regret about it. I know that I shouldn’t be doing that. I know that I wasted time on a day dream. I feel childish and stupid for it. But that’s what my journey into Buddhism is awakening me to. At least now I can acknowledge these lapses in awareness for what they are.
So, I’ll bottle it up tonight, and in a couple of weeks we’ll see how it turns out. Luckily, I’ve got about 45 bottles of Amber Ale that did turn out well. I’ll post a recipe for that one later this week, or maybe next week after I’ve tasted one that has really had a chance to finish. Cheers.