literature

Brewing With Father

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Vicky Angles had one nervous tick more prominent than the others.  Nail biting.  It happens every time, even when calm and casting simple spells.  Nervousness was spreading through her insides.

It was impossible to be this nervous for her very first brew day at the family brewery.  A cake walk for novice brewers when the research is collected and spend days watching YouTube.  It was because of her father’s presence and the, but not official, right of passage.

“It all starts with the mash, honey,” Vern Angles said.  “Malt, water, yeast, hops, and time.  Always is, always will.  Any other ingredient enhances it to craft status.”

They were in the test lab, the very lab that cultures yeast strains and brew very small batches for future consideration.  Many, except a few per year, ever make it to the draft line.

Verne happened to use a levitation spell of exactly two pounds of grain.  Each kernel danced in zero gravity.  Vicky was capable of performing the spell.  Vern was stickler for sanitation to promote less contamination and free-flowing microbes, resulting in the cleanest beer in the county.  Something Vicky would live up to one day.  The point being was she had to show it.

“Ready?” Verne asked, smiling.  His white buzzed beard enhanced it, it’s what Vicky liked about him the most.

Vicky stopped biting her thumb and took breaths to focus.  Years of practice helped as she accepted the floating mass of Pale, Crystal, Victory, and Chocolate malt from Verne.  The transfer happened smoothly, both hands wide open and focus unfiltered.

“Now drop the grain into the mill,” Vern instructed.  “You know what comes next.  I’m here if you need me.”  He sounded in control of himself, calming for her to not freeze.  Vicky walked up and dropped the malt into the mill.  Below the mill, the stainless pot of hot water waited.  She turned on the mill, crushing the malt into the water.

Once finished she transferred the pot to the burner, where it was brought to temperature and rest, converting starches to sugars.  She also touched a special sigil on the side of the burner.

This brew session was different.  The Angles family of witches employed one helpful charm in the lab.  Time.  The burner and pot were magically enchanted so once used, time and space accelerate.  Typical malt mashing is 60 minutes.  The charm can cut that to three.  Only two sigils on the burner were dedicated for the time charm for a three minute mash and a five minute boil.

Vicky checked the mash after the burner shut itself off.  The malt looked like oatmeal, but the liquid was the prize, concentrated sugars and colors and more sugars were locked inside the kernels.  Brownish black, just what the recipe stated.  Verne checked too.

“Alright, looks close to standards,” Vicky said.  “I believe you can handle the rest.”  Confidence came, fear of spilling was beyond her.  She tucked her brown and black hair behind her ears, hair color resembling the liquid.

“I’m not holding you back,” her father said.

Two more identical pots.  One for boiling sparge water, the other to receive the runoffs from the grain.  She sanitized the receiving pot and strainer.  She spent a few minutes dumping the mushy malt mass into the strainer and the boiled water over the grain.  Sweet, sugary water ran down and into the pot.  She repeated the process .  No magic involved, just her muscles.  She wanted to be careful.

Vern helped disposing of the grain (it’ll be used for muffins for tomorrows breakfast) while Vicky measured out the hop pellets.  Vicky had to get the measurements correct or else the finished beer could be different then expected, considering Verne was stickler too of quality in the production line.  Performing this reminded Vicky of her alchemy teachings with her mother.  Talented as Vicky was creating a slew of potions for just about anything, but brewing beer was her father’s pride and joy.  She did not want to disappoint him.

Each strain of hop, four total, were in their own cups.

The amounts seemed minuscule like a pinch or a speck, but big or small, the taste stayed the same throughout, depending on the right additions at the right time.  It is a craft and art form to create the desired and distinct flavor, so Vicky had to get the flavor right.

The filled pot of wort was put back on the burner, but she didn’t light it yet.  Dealing with time acceleration with the boil is delicate work.  Vicky remembered her father demonstrating, and hoping she accomplished the same result.  She stood two feet from the pot.

“So all I do is light it, watch the clock, and add hops by the written times?” She asked.

“Exactly, just as it says in the book,” Vern said.  He had all his recipes in leather books.  It was difficult to convert the most popular beer style to a one gallon batch for Vicky.

“You sure?” She asked, eyeing Verne.  Her father was prone to prank her, even as a fully grown adult.

Her father did a deep laugh.  “It is, honey.”

So it was the truth.  Pranking her was out the window.  Vicky continued, even though she wanted to hear him laugh once more for confidence.

She lit the burner with a match and let the wort come to a boil.  Countless times she watched Verne and the other brewers brew one commercial batch after another, never ignoring it to prevent boil over.  The wort created froth and prompted Vicky to turn down the flame and stir with a sanitized spoon.  It was time.

One hand was on the timer over the pot, set to five minutes, and the other hand, over the second time acceleration sigil.  She counted down in her head.  Vern stood by with his arms folded.

All at once, she pressed the timer and sigil.  She added cups of hops stated by the recipe like a rehearsed skit.  Each addition had to be precise.  The first two additions were added quickly and on time without hesitation.  The last two she faulted; the third was added a second early and the fourth was ten seconds later after checking the recipe for assurance.

“I can let that pass, this doesn’t have to be perfect you know,” Vern said.

“But this is your career,” Vicky said.  “I’m making the best seller.  That’s nerve-racking on itself.”  The burner shut itself off.

“Just like me.  I understand.”

Vicky smiled.

Next she used a cooling spell to chill the wort to the proper temperature in one minute.  She previously sanitized a glass jug and funnel before she started the mash.  Carefully she levitated the liquid, much more difficult to keep water together in zero gravity, into the jug.  The process also helped incorporate oxygen for the yeast to do their job.  Vicky asked before if she could leave the hops in without straining it and she was allowed.

As she added the dry yeast and placed the airlock on the jug to cut the beer from the open air, Vicky dropped onto a chair by the yeast vault worn out.  She felt like she was holding her breath.  She even had no strength to go back biting her thumbnail.

There was no need to accelerate time for fermentation.  The magic can alter the yeast to unknown possibilities as Verne discovered years before he opened the brewery.  Nature itself have to take over.

Verne placed his hand in her daughter’s shoulder and said, “You did good.”

“I messed up on the Cascade and Simco,” Vicky said.

“It doesn’t matter.  You did it.  Now we wait.  Between you and me, I’m interested in the change.”

In two weeks and two days, the Angles Brown Ale, altered of course, will be done and carbonated by Vicky’s 21st birthday.  A good fitting ritual from father to daughter.

Just this week alone while editing the last parts of Detox, I took part in a short online workshop, basically on how to write a witch character using the traditional magic techniques. It was ran by Deborah Blake, an actual witch. She is great, full of information. Some of what she said was exactly the research I collected. I know some things in both universes aren't or are correct, but it's all fiction right?

I hope you enjoyed what I learned and incorporated into a fresh take on homebrewing with magic. I hoped I made you smile, after what happened early Friday morning. And please, leave your comments.
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