Thirty-five years ago — March 17, 1980 — Len and I swept each other off our collective feet and eloped on St. Patrick’s Day.
Each wearing jeans, tennis shoes, and Snoopy t-shirts, we drove lickety-split in my fire engine red Dodge Colt from Escondido to The Chapel of Happiness in San Diego where after paying $32.50 we were pronounced husband and wife. Averaging 92-cents per year, it’s — bar none — the best investment we ever made.
I’m fortunate in that I get to rub shoulders with some tremendously interesting people—people who are outstanding in their field because they consistently (1) show up, (2) put their best foot forward, and (3) apply themselves fully to their craft:
… these are all types of beer. And they’re all handcrafted in the Buchanan Brewery by Brewmaster Len—henceforth referred to as Himself.
All beer can be classified as either lager or ale—the difference begins during the brewing process. Whether the beer is an ale or lager is determined by the type of yeast used in the brew and the temperature at which fermentation takes place.
Ales are brewed with top-fermenting yeast that allows for rapid fermentation at warmer temperatures. Lagers are brewed with bottom-fermenting yeast that ferments more slowly and at colder temperatures.
Himself has deemed “brew day” his favorite day. The smell of sweet wort bubbling away stirs something primordial in his brain.
Herself has deemed “brew day” her least favorite day as the smell of sweet wort bubbling away makes her sick—it stinks to high heaven! Hence this part of the process takes place in the garage portion of the brewery.
Made in 5-gallon batches, the last batch was American pale ale and the current batch is Scottish ale. Himself has declared that the next bath will be an English brown ale.
Beer making is a delicate process
Once he gets to the cool and ferment processes, Himself turns into a doting parent, frequently checking on his “baby”—precious brew—to make certain that the bubbles in the airlock on the fermenter are indeed bubbling at the recommended rate.
In due time (typically 3 weeks during which the primary and secondary fermentations have taken place), if the brew has behaved itself, it’s time to move to the priming and bottling stage.
Stand back everyone, every single thing has been sterilized to within an inch of its life! If you come too close, Himself is liable to lunge at you, wild-eyed, with a large siphon, and perhaps even shout words that could singe your hair!
Upon completion, Himself has to wait—sampling periodically, mind you. The blessed day finally arrives and Himself gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Cheers!
We celebrated Len’s 55th birthday on Sunday. After an early morning bicycle ride, we headed over to “Our Garden” for a beautiful bouquet of colorful flowers and some delicious vegetables to add to the celebration meal.
Because it was hot and humid, we kept the meal simple and cool: fresh fruit, nuts, and cheese for appetizers, and a build-your-own salad, with fresh-off-the-stalk corn on the cob. I made one of the salad dressings with Chemlali Olive Oil and Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar—both from “The Olive Oil Shops” in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin—our favorite oilery.
Our friend, Karen, brought an assortment of homemade bars—chocolate, lemon, and peanut butter—for dessert.
The first birthday that Len and I celebrated together after we got married in 1980 was Len’s 25th birthday. Because he didn’t play a musical instrument, I thought it would be a good idea to broaden his horizons just a wee bit. With that in mind, I bought him a harmonica. After two months of ear-scraping, brain-denting “noise” I confiscated it, explaining that this was just one more good reason for him to never, ever go to prison. With a harmonica they’d kill him—definitely kill him!