Dear Mr. Beer Manners
A modern-day guide to enjoying craft beer … without being a jerk about it.
Dear Mr. Beer Manners, Newlywed here, and we’re going through some growing pains. I’ve always loved his homebrew, and even though I am not a brewer myself, I have a lot of fun hanging out and helping him on brew day. But now there’s equipment all over the house. Stir plates on the kitchen counters, kettles in the dining room, and hoses and…
other stuff…in the living room and bedroom. It’s not a matter of him being a slob; it’s just that he brews so often that he doesn’t see any reason to put it away, and because we work such long hours, it’s not a priority for him to take everything down to the basement for storage. I don’t want to be that person—you know, the one who says it’s me or the beer—but I can barely make dinner at night. He doesn’t want to brew in the garage because he’s worried about contamination, but there’s no way we can keep this up without a loss of sanity down the road. Is this just a phase? How can we make this work? –Lost in Dallas Dear Lost, You have to say something. Consider it the first step in your marriage toward a life where you are mutually contributing to the idea of maintaining an organized home. I recommend making it a part of a larger reorganization initiative. Perhaps start by buying some bins to sort, organize, and put away your own stuff. Maybe buy a rolling cart to make moving the gear from room to room easier. And I also recommend buying a label maker (and extra labels). If he’s anything like the homebrewers I know (myself included), he’s likely pretty into gadgets and this might turn organization into more of a fun activity than a chore. Good luck. Dear Mr. Beer Manners, I lent some equipment to a coworker to brew with, and when I got it back, I got a nasty surprise. He’d hosed things down, but the lines were sticky and growing funk on the inside, there were grains still stuck to the mash tun, and there’s a really nasty ring of scorched something on the bottom of my boil kettle. And did I mention the bent false bottom? Who freaking does that??? I wasted an entire Saturday de-gunking everything, an activity that distracted me from flying into a blackout rage (I’m trying to find the silver lining). I’m obviously never going to lend him my equipment again, but I feel that something should be said. The thing is, as you might have noticed above, we work together. Do I let it go and keep the peace at work, or do I risk some tension and let him know what a pain that was? What the Funk? in Boston Dear WTF, I feel your pain, and I’ve had similar experiences. At this point, I think you have to let go. It’s better to address these types of situations as they occur rather than waiting weeks or months to bring them back up after resentment has been allowed to manifest itself. For example, when you noticed that the funk was growing in your tubing and you were going to have to spend significant time and energy on cleaning your system, you could have reached out to your coworker to come help you clean the system (maybe, just maybe he doesn’t know how to thoroughly clean a brew system and would be grateful to learn). If he ever asks you to borrow your gear in the future, that would be the appropriate time to bring it up with him. Let him know that the last time he borrowed the equipment, it wasn’t returned in the condition you expected. For now, however, I recommend putting it behind you.
There is a practical method for preemptively avoiding these types of situations. I have a number of brewer friends who have developed a checklist for preparation and cleaning of their brewing equipment. They use the checklist themselves, but they also make sure it accompanies any equipment that they loan to friends. It’s not a foolproof system, but it’s a proactive step in setting expectations for taking care of your equipment. Sanitization is a mindset. If you have a question for Mr. Beer Manners, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. We reserve the right to edit your question for length and clarity.