Most people will see the title and think the topic of this post will be about me drinking my dad’s beer, or quite possibly sneaking my first beer from my dad. But it’s nothing even close to that. If you know me or my family then you know we are all struggling because dad is sick. Sick to the point that I’m afraid to sleep and wake up to that call. I’m scheduled to travel next week but I’m too scared to be too far away. I’m too scared to tell dad all the things you typically tell someone at this point, because I don’t want to ruin the thoughts that God is going to answer all our prayers. But there are things that I’m certain Dad won’t (damn this is harder than I imagined to write) get to see. He will never meet my yet to be conceived child and my child(ren) will never meet the man who made me the man who I am today. If I ever decide to take my passion for the mental challenge, the art and the chemistry aspect of brewing to the next level and eventual open a brew pub, Dad probably won’t be walking among us to sit at his own bar stool. I know he will still see me, telling me what I need to do. What I need to do to make more money so I can take care of my family like he took care of his.
Dad told me I was lazy when I was young. Then made sure I wouldn’t be lazy when I was grown by giving me my first car. But not before I proved I could work for it. He got the car in a barter, but it needed an engine, a new interior and painting. So I pulled the engine out of it, then put another engine in it and got it running. Then he had me pull the interior out of it so it could be finished with new material. He then had it painted and I had to wash and wax it so he could give his approval if it was a good paint job. Three paint jobs, three washes and three waxes later I was ready to ride. I could go on for ever on his life lessons.
By now you’re thinking I’m going to brew Dad’s favorite beer, but he wasn’t much of a drinker. So why not brew a beer to remember Dad by? It will consist of the things that always remind me of him. He’s a successful entrepreneur now, but left school when he was starting high school I think. He started turning wrenches. He could make anything go, he was really good at making them go fast. But not just fast, fast and they would stay together. He was building race car engines for his sister’s husband. Then bought his own car and built engines for it. If only he was still doing that when I was older enough to drive. So being a ‘wrench monkey’ the beer will have to be as dark as burnt motor oil.
So now that our style is limited to a porter or a stout, I need to decide what’s going in it. Dad had a multiple night a week staple for dinner, a grilled rib-eye steak with a baked potato or french fries. While I like a cut with a little less marbling, it’s very much my favorite meal too. But we can’t throw steak and potatoes in the boil. If there is one thing I remember about family trips, it was breakfast. Waffle House was the first stop for most trips. Whether it was him holding me in the seat while we rode The Great American Scream Machine at Six Flags, or Mom and Dad surprising me and Brad (my younger, yet much taller, little brother) with Sunday afternoon Braves games at Turner Field, WaHo was the first stop. Dad cooks the best breakfast too. Bacon was never too crispy, scrambled eggs were moist and fluffy. He would always make me cinnamon toast, just for me. I would never let him live down dipping his toast crust in his coffee either. But the two of us love coffee. I think I’m brewing a breakfast stout. A dark, roasted breakfast stout. With a strong presence of coffee, yet thick, with a head that slowly forms.
But I may not stop there, or I may brew a second beer. Dad’s mom had this great recipe for Mexican pecan fudge. It was so, so sweet. It tasted of rich caramel with fresh pecans mixed through. He would only make it when the weather was just right. I don’t mean like just in the fall or winter, but the humidity and pressure had to be right or it wouldn’t set. It was a dark caramel color that took hours of stirring so it wouldn’t stick and just as long on wax paper before we could sneak them. I’ve never been very big on any type of nuts, but I now appreciate pecans because of this recipe. Yet Dad would always save some to the side for me without pecans.
Now to build a recipe, a recipe that has the right torque to stay together and enough horsepower to pull ahead of the rest (of my other brews). Nothing in life will be more harder than seeing my Dad in this much pain, but naming this beer won’t be easy either.
Cheers Dad! I love you man.