My dad ran a brewery in Toronto fifteen years ago, when I was just a toddler. It was a U-brew, meaning customers came in and he helped brew whatever kind of beer they were interested in. It makes sense then, that now as young men, my dad was eager to teach my friends and I how to brew when we asked him.
He took us step by step and taught us a lot about beer-making basics. Showing us how to grind the grain, how to mix the hops, and how temperature influences the beer. Working all day, we finished our first keg. Then came the patience-trying weeks of waiting as the beer fermented.
When it came time to unveil the new brew, we had a backyard barbeque at my house. We had worked hard and wanted to share the fruits of our labor. Neighbours, children and family friends all came over to sample a taste. As the food cooked on the grill, we brought out the fancy glasses and settled onto the porch to have the first sip. While pouring the glasses, we noticed our neighbours on their porch as well. On any other day we would have greeted each other and then returned to our separate conversations. It seemed wrong though that we were enjoying such a delicious drink while they sat empty-handed. So we did the natural thing, and invited them over.
That day taught me that having something to share breaks down the barriers between neighbors; it gives purpose and meaning to being together. In this case, instead of a mere greeting, the act of sharing lead to conversation and bonding as we spent far more time with those neighbours than we usually had. This was especially true since the item being shared we had made ourselves with hard work and passion.
I also learned that brewing beer is much like tending to a farm. Once the beer is brewed it must ferment for weeks, in a similar way that vegetables, once planted, take time to grow. During this stage the beer needs to be checked on and tended to, like farmers keeping a watchful eye on their crops. However, the strongest resemblance to farming that brewing has is once the beer is ready. Much like how the harvest is shared amongst friends and family, so was the beer we brewed.