Electricity is a funny old thing.
....and by 'funny old thing' I mean it completely dominates our whole lives.
For the last day and a half our street has been without power. Obviously it's back on now, finally, otherwise I wouldn't be able to write this post. It was evident how much we really rely on electricity whilst I was making myself some lunch today. It was midday so I was oblivious to the fact we had no power, and just went about my normal business. I quite fancied some beans on toast to set me up right for the afternoon. I popped two slices in the toaster and opened a can of beans. I tried to put the toaster on, but it wasn't working... duuhhh! 'There's no electricity' I thought to myself! Thoughts then raced through my head about how I could toast these two slices of bread... "I know, I can grill them.... wait.. duuhhh again! The grill is electric!"
It was about another two minutes later before I realised that all of this was mute, as I had no microwave to heat up the beans either!! I was a bit lost then. "What can I have for lunch now??" I scoured the fridge for some food, but to my lack of surprise, everything needed to be heated up by some method which I was not in possession of. Turns out a ham and cheese sandwich wasn't too bad.
All this does relate to beer, before you go elsewhere... It really got me thinking about our dependancy on the sparky stuff and what that could mean for the brewers of today, be it at home, or on a massive industrial scale.
Say your ten minutes into your boil, and there's a blackout. What do you do? Is that a wasted batch, or do you wait for the power to come back on? What if it doesn't come back on for a couple of days... is all the mornings hard work and effort to making your beer a waste, and do you have to pour it down the drain? It would certainly be annoying but maybe not too much problem for a homebrewer, compared to a commercial brewer with maybe hundreds or even thousands of gallons to pour away.
It got me thinking of how people went about making beer before the emergence of electricity. I mean beer has been made for quite a many number of years pre 19th century. I thought about how you'd go about an average boil. Fire is the obvious answer, but it's hard to imagine people making beer, in the same way as cooking, on the levels of scale that we have today - even for a small brewery.
When industries started using machines and electricity, things changed for ever, and very dramatically in fact. I reckon brewing in some breweries today would be almost unrecognisable to people from just a few hundred yeas ago.
While all this innovation, progress, change, whatever you call it, is a fantastic thing, what happens when something goes wrong with it? I reckon we're pretty damn useless if our new computerised breweries fell foul of a little electricity hiccup. I mean I wasn't about to crack up a fire just to make my beans on toast.
All this came together while I was drinking a beer from Short's Brewery. Why did it come to me? Because I didn't need electricity to open or enjoy it. (I did need it to take and upload the picture though..)
Short's Ginger in the Rye is a 7.8% Imperial Rye Munich Ale, "A most distinguished effervescent potable of total consciousness." and you know what? It's just plain delicious! Let OpenIt continue!