8 or so years ago I walked into where I now work and purchased my first home-brewing equipment and ingredient kits. Yesterday I stood in awe as 50+ teams of people simultaneously brewed batches of beer at the Calder plaza in beautiful downtown Grand Rapids. What happened in the middle is ill-important, save the detail that when fully steeped in the culture of home-brewing and brewers it is sometimes easy to forget how powerfully their passion can manifest itself. For the past 2 years, Siciliano’s Market, my place of employ, has rented the Calder plaza on the first Saturday of May for the express purpose of providing a unique approach to nationally sanctioned event known as Big Brew Day sponsored by the American Home Brewers Association. Our Idea seems simple enough, donate over 50 batches of beer to be brewed by 50 or so teams during Big Brew Day, make sure the time constraints and other mitigations of renting the plaza are met with vigor, and enjoy the company of a cacophony of driven DIYers. However, beneath the layers of seemly simplicity there lay a mine field of harrowing tasks such as, tireless phone calls to city operatives, coordinating deliveries or necessary utilities, the invention and conception of specific equipment, paperwork, the weighing and grinding of 50 batches of beer, laying schematics of team layouts, acquiring teams, battling with weather reports, paperwork, tracking down heat resistant dolly carts, finding and employing entertainment, locating a sealed means of hauling away waste material, buying fire-hose, hoping against all hope that everything goes according to plan, and PAPERWORK.
It is all worth it.
The joy for me lies not with the fact that Steve and Barb, owners of Siciliano’s, trusted me to write the recipe that would be donated for the event, not within the samples of beer poured for me by participating brewers, nor in the nail driving game brought by one of our brew clubs. For me, the joy lay in the collected efforts of all in attendance that were equally responsible for the inception and success of Big Brew Day. I stood far back from the crowd, and in so doing I felt so very small in the best way possible. This was not an event put on by the Staff of one store (thought believe you me, Barb, Steve, Sarah, Kati, myself, and the rest of the staff worked our asses off for it), this is an event that grew from the passion of a collective of individuals who cried out for an outlet of expression as much as we at Siciliano’s were eager to oblige. Yesterday, we as a community proved again that we were willing to forsake any hardships in the name of expression and creation. It’s only doubly wonderful due to the fact that we chose to make beer. For all who thanked us yesterday for hosting the event I say back to you; thank you, we honestly could not have done it without you.