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Serum Visions – An Introduction

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Hello everyone and thanks for being here with me today. I’d like to start by introducing myself, to let you know a little bit about who I am, where I come from, and why it is that the great guys at Brainstorm Brewery think I might have something worth saying to y’all.

My name is Andrew Colman, and I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, just a few hours north of the North Dakota border. My official schooling has nothing to do with beer or cube. I did an undergrad degree at the University of Manitoba in jazz trumpet performance. It took me seven years to complete and I figured out in my third year that I wasn’t going to be a musician in life, and yet I would not take a moment of it back. I learned mostly about learning which in my opinion is the most valuable thing one can learn. I have just begun my Masters of Divinity degree from Trinity College at the University of Toronto distance education in Winnipeg. I’ll be moving out there next September with my beautiful wife to fully engage in the program over a three-year period. So if you are from Winnipeg or Toronto hit me up and we can drink some beer and cube!

Well, that’s quite enough of a bio for now, I’ll be telling stories about making beer like there is no tomorrow because I came at this hobby via the school of hard knocks! I remember talking to my cousin about when he used to make beer in college, they would always make two batches: one an experiment and the other they tried their hardest to recreate every week. They eventually got close to consistency but never really nailed it. I’ll talk about this later in a post on the topic of why we as brewers and beer drinkers actually need to respect the makers of Budweiser even if the beer really sucks!

Anyways, after learning that making beer at home was a thing, it bubbled in my mind for about six months. One day at school I was just blabbing on about whatever, and the fact that I wanted to make beer came up. It just so happened that one of my friends knew how to make beer. Bam, that weekend we were brewing! My first beer deserves its own 1200 words so I wont go into detail here, but I will say, if there are 10 steps to making beer, we did 15 of them wrong. We also made a few people pretty ill along the way. But that’s for another time.

After that I took a little hiatus to recover and it wasn’t until I started working at Chapters, a Canadian version of Barnes and Noble, that I started noticing all of the literature on beer. I did a little research and figured out that the Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian is arguably one of the greatest home brewing books ever written, rivaled only by John Palmer’s How to Brew. Again we have a topic for another post. I bought the Papazian book and read it cover to cover, and then cover to cover again, and then cover to cover again! It was at this point I had to give my then girlfriend, now wife, the book to hold on to because it consumed my life.

Lo and behold we have this thing called the internet! I had spent a little time on the forum www.homebrewtalk.com, which is analogous to MTG Salvation, except I find it to be a lot more helpful. I spent as much time crawling every topic I could find on this forum as I did doing anything else. During this time I was making a beer every two weeks – as soon as the fermentation of one beer was finished and the yeast had been cleaned, I was bottling and making a new batch. At one point I had two carboys, one bucket, one half carboy, and three one-gallon test batches going in my room while in university. During the winter I would seal off the little window cubby hole and make one gallon batches of lager in there. It was perfect, the temperature had to be just above freezing and I could adjust the amount of ambient room air to keep that little space at the perfect temp.

After a year or two of working at Chapters as just a lowly grunt I was promoted to a regular grunt (cashier). I was then transferred to the music department which is a sequestered area surrounded my tons of music and was rarely very busy. This was a turning point. I could read for eight hours per shift if I wasn’t bothered by any customers and that is exactly what I did! Not only did I read every book on beer in the store, but I was taking out books from the library to read when I had burned though the other ones. It was awesome!

Every mad obsession must come to and end. The summer after I graduated I took up landscaping which zapped all of my energy. It wasn’t until about a year and half later that I picked up brewing again. I had made the odd batch of beer here and there and it was always the best beer in the room, which eventually got people asking if I would teach them to make their own beer. And so it started again: I have taught three people to brew in the last year or so and I have a schedule of people I need to teach before I head out to Toronto.

This series actually got spurred on by the beer that is being made for the cast. They asked for some comments and I wrote an article on what kind of beer they should make, and after some discussion, here I am.

I have one main goal with this series: make sure that my readers are beer literate. If people read this column I’d like them to be able to talk about beer intelligently, be able to taste beer and know what they are tasting, and have a bit of a working knowledge on the history of beer. Forgive me if this seems a bit noble, but it’s the goal…and I am listening to some very noble sounding music.

My next article will be on how beer is made from field to glass. If you know this, everything else going forward will have a frame of reference. Think of it like learning how to build an Esper Control versus an RDW deck. If I say Sphinx’s Revelation is bad in RDW, you would have no idea what I was talking about if you didn’t have the fundamentals down first.

Going forward from there, each post will be inspired by the MTG community in one way or another. For instance, with the pro tour having been in Dublin recently, I would have written on the amazing history of Guinness and how in Ireland if you ask for a pint, they automatically hand you a Guinness whether it was what you wanted or not. Or the utter dominance of the mono-blue deck may have led me to write about Blue Moon “craft” beer which is actually owned by one of the BMC companies, and has attempted to squeeze real craft brewers out of the market. Or with the release of True-Name Nemesis, I might have written on the brewery named Dogfish Head in Delaware. They make absolutely insane beers there, like Chicha, which is a beer that is mashed (terms to be learned in next post) by humans chewing it rather than being soaked in 154 degree water for an hour. If there is something I am just burning to write on, I’ll pull some tricky linguistics and make it fit to a pertinent MTG topic of the week.

Well, if I have piqued your interest, let me know in the comments section. If you have any feedback or suggestions of topics I should keep in mind let me know.

Thanks for hangin’

Andrew

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Andrew Colman

Andrew Colman

@awcolman     -     Email     -     Articles
Andrew Colman

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Andrew Colman

@awcolman     -     Email     -     Articles

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  1. Joakim

    Awesome topic! I have a couple of books on beer and have had my share during my youth and through university and consider m’self an enthusiast. A while back I travelled through Denmark to visit local brewers, chat with them and seize the opportunities for tasting. I never got to the point of how beer was brewed, so this a perfect chance to get more knowledge. Looking forward to it!

    1. Andrew Colman

      Hello Joakim,

      Which books do you have? I’m always looking for new ones! I hope I can learn you up on the topic and maybe even inspire you to take the plunge into so home brewing!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Andrew

  2. Mark (marcusp619)

    Great subject Andrew,
    I have been looking for a beer to call my own, and with there being so many local beers it is hard to choose one. I only get to drink 2 days out of week, which i usually end up trying out a new beer, this process of elimination has not been going so smoothly.
    Suggestion: Beer of the week! Give the readers something to discuss about while we wait on the next article.

    1. Andrew Colman

      Hi Mark,

      Beer of the week sounds like a good idea, except i live in Canada… I do get the very mainstream craft beers here like Sam Adams, Rouge, Red Racer and the like, but most of the stuff I can get my hands on is Canadian Craft brews and not even an amazing selection at that. That is actually another reason I got into home brewing. This way I can make a beer to call my own also I can follow good recipes on styles that I’d like to try.

      What I can do, is recommend a Style of the week, or in our case it will be bi-weekly as my article for next week will be on cube. I will recommend a style and some tasting notes. This way we can all go out pick up a few different version and we can discuss that way. This will be a great vocabulary building and surprisingly a sensory build exercise. I had never been able to pick out mango’s on the nose of a beer until i read about it and all of a sudden a beer I had been confused about made more sense to me. Zythos hops (actually a hop blend) have a pronounced tropical fruit character and mango is a big part of that.

      Style of the bi-week: Done!

      Thanks a lot!

      Andrew

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