Confessions of a Brewer’s Wife

By Laurel J. Glewwe

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. This is the Brewer’s Wife motto. Like beers, there are good batches that make our men feel like men, and then there are those batches that make our men feel like they have to start over and conqueror that mash.

Opening Apologies….

At this point, I would like to do a little side note dash apology. I apologize for the reference to “Brewers’ Wives”. I do not want to leave out significant others, girl friends, or anyone who has a male brewing in their kitchens, basements and/or garages. You, I know, are out there. Yet, I feel, you are in a different category. You still have a chance to change your man. Modify or tone down his behavior. You see he is in what we married wives refer to as in the “hunter/conqueror phase”. He will do anything to please you, to lure you in, and capture you. Therefore, if you want to squelch this hobby now is the time to act. On the other hand, I warn you a true brewer will look at his carboys, look at you, and you may run the risk of loosing him. Yes, it is true. If he is a true brewer, he may choose his craft over capturing you during the hunt and conqueror phase.

Chapter One: The Cheap Inexpensive Hobby

How it all started. My husband came to me one day and out of the blue asked me if I would mind if he “tried his hand at brewing.” “It would be a cheap inexpensive hobby,” he said. Being the good wife that I am (and it sounded interesting) I said, “Sure, why not.” Little did I know….

I am sure this is the common phraseology that every brewer’s wife has heard. I am also sure that every brewer’s wife would agree with me that this is not a cheap hobby. The only thing us ladies may disagree on is the time. Some of us may say it takes our husbands and boyfriends out of our hair for hours on end. This point may be a good thing and for others it may be a bad thing. However, I think I am getting ahead of myself. Let us tackle the “time element” thing in a later chapter.

Ok, you have now given your permission. The next step is how to begin. He probably has someone out there who is his brew master. A gentleman who is excellent at his craft and brews lots. Since the Carter administration, home brewers can brew 200 gallons per drinking adult. In my family, there is myself who drinks very little beer because I prefer wine, my husband who does drink beer and my 18-year-old daughter who does not drink beer. My son is fourteen and does not drink beer at this point. That means that thanks to the Carter Administration my husband can brew 400 gallons of beer. Who can drink that much?

My Brewer went to a friend’s house and spent a day learning the trade. Then proceeded to the library and bought the how to books on brewing and a few trade secret recipe books. Then came the supplies:

This is only a partial list of just a few of the essentials. You can check out the following web site for a more complete list and pricing.

Side note: I asked my Brewer what equipment he felt a fellow would need to begin and the following is how he started:

First, you need a primary fermenter – usually a big plastic bucket. And the ingredients – malted barley, hops, yeast, and water. Oh yea, but you need boil in a big stainless steel boiling pot.
The next step was the perfect male brew store. A place where a man can hangout, swap recipes and get his hands on every new brewer’s gadget on the market to make that all intrusive perfect brew. Once again at this point I am consulting my Brewer. He recommends you take a look at his listing under or again consult -

Chapter Two: Let the Brewing begin!

Now comes the actual cooking of the wort, the transfer of brew from one carboy to the next for clarification and the perking of the yeasts. Let us break this down: First were the stainless steel pots (see price above) where the wort would sit on my European style stove, cook and make the house smell like burning tree bark with the moss still on the tree. Be advised ladies when you ask the questions, “What reeks?” be prepared to hear, “Ya! Doesn’t that smell wonderful!”? At this point, I found a wonderful two-burner camp gas stove. I gave it to him on Valentine’s Day and it was the Tachoma Hall of gifts. My guy now boils the wort in the garage and I have my chocolate chip cookie-smelling house back. Warning note: When my husband brews his wort in the garage the smell will drive all domestic animals out and to the far back end of our ten areas. If you want to get rid of skunks and squirrels in the garage this could be a plus for you. Also note that where he pours the wort nothing will grow. My Brewer wiped out a flowerbed thinking the residue of wort would be good fertilizer.

The carboy transfer is the least of the worries. Transfer for clarification will mean a small quart size spill or two. Take heart, ladies…as your Brewer gets more experienced, the size of the spill will become minimal.

It is during this phase when “the guys” come into my life. The guys are like an extra marital affair. They can invade your bedroom, interrupt your sleep and ruin the décor of your home. I am of course speaking about the yeast. The fermentation process. There is a small glass gizmo that rest at the top of the carboys. Looks innocent enough with its simple water filled compartment but it is the indicator of the invaders. It is to measure how the yeast is fermenting. If it perks fast, the yeast ake known as “the guys” are alive, healthy and brewing-up a good batch high in alcohol content. As Martha Stewart would say, ‘this is a good thing.” If it is not bubbling away happily then they may need to come up from the cool basement and into your nice warm bedroom. My husband positioned “they guys” next to his side of the bed. The perking was like soothing music to his ears and put him to sleep like a baby, but for me the perk perk kept me awake for the night. Take note ladies this perking and the intrusion could be for days. Separate bedrooms may be an answer but I will leave it to you.

Chapter Three: The Good, The Bad and the Oh My God!

I know the title may be a bit strange but let us face it, I think Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns and brewing beer are all on the same frame of reference.

The time it takes the brewer to get that all-inclusive perfect batch of brew is – NEVER. The first time your brewer brews up his cauldron of beer and or whatever he may name it – it will be the best thing he ever tasted and it will be the worst thing you ever tasted. This will not deter him. He will just simply taste, look at you and then state how he will clarify this or let that ferment a little longer. Just smile and nod.

The second, third, fourth and so on trials will be better. Let him experiment. Yes, it may be expensive. Yes, he does smell up the house with his wort cooking on your European thermo burners, and yes, after the transfer of brew from one carboy to the next leaves a syrupy stick residue on your kitchen floor, refrigerator handle and the walls of your kitchen…the stuff does get better.

Chapter Four: Beware of Brewers baring gifts.

Do you remember the old phrase “beware of Greeks baring gifts?” This can also be very true of husbands who bring you flowers, candy and complement you for your cooking. Watch out if he starts with “how beautiful you are” or “you are the best wife a man could hope for.” Well the last one they got right. A Brewers wife is the best!<

Back to the topic. If your Brewer comes in with anyone of the above he has:

  1. He bought more equipment.Usually the equipment is smuggled in.
  2. He wants to dig out a portion of the basement for lagering purposes.
  3. Has bought yet another refrigerator.
  4. He wants to drill two simple holes. One in the floor coming up from the basement into the kitchen, and the second hole in your kitchen counter to place an ornamental beer tap.
  5. Ordered Mead direct from Scotland so he may compare the “really good stuff” with his homebrew.
If you have experienced any of the above in this chapter, please e-mail me at I would love to hear about your Brewer and his escapades.

Chapter Five: Time

Time is relative. Einstein was a man, right? Leave it to him to come up with the phrase, which will certainly hold true for a Brewer.

Family birthdays, wife’s anniversary and even sex can now all is timed by how the Brewer’s beer is progressing. The phrase that is common in my house, “I think the guys are done.” Referring to the yeast has fermented about as long as it can, alcohol readings are high, and it is now time to move to the next phase. This is how time is measured. It is by the progress of the brew.

Time now being measured not by the clock or the months of the year, but how the “batch” is doing does have good and bad points. Let us look at both the positive and the negative.

Positive, if your guy was the type to be attentive to your every need (this guy is rare and please e-mail me where you found him there are many women still looking for a gent like this) you may relish the fact the brewing of beer is taking him out of your hair.

Negative, the birthday and anniversaries seem to be forgotten. Of course, for me, this is one of the reasons my husband married me: to take care of those family obligations.

Positive, your Brewer will be joining a brewing club/ organization to learn more about brewing the perfect drinkable beverage. Gets him active and out of the house so you can clean up some of the sticky mess from the last batch he brewed.
Negative, more beer recipes, more equipment and more of those grandeur plans of how to improve your home for the perfect brewer (this is where he got the idea of drilling holes in my kitchen floor and counter so that he can have a beer tap of fresh brew in the middle of my kitchen).
Positive, if your man is spending more time at home brewing that means he is spending less time at the local pub with the guys.
Negative, his drinking buddies upon finding out your Brewer is brewing his own beer may now be camping out in your home waiting for the next batch to sample. Remember, 400 plus gallons attracts men like bees to honey.

Chapter Six: Let’s expand!

The “let’s expand” phase is also known as the “dream phase.” It can or cannot be harmful. My husband has split his “let’s expand” phase into two subparts.

The first phase sometimes has me worried. This is the phase of home improvements. My Brewer wanted to install on my kitchen counter an ornamental beer tap. The tubing would run from the basement, where is brew kettles are located, up through the floor and through my kitchen counter. Drilling of two holes tops and then we can have “fresh beer!”

There are many examples of this phase but my favorite was where he drove I really enjoyed the plans he had for displaying a beer poster in my formal living room. He first spent $120 to get it professionally framed and then wanted to display it in my formal living room.

The second phase is the “I need more room”. Therefore, let us build a shed to accommodate all the paraphernalia of brewing. Since we live on ten acres, this is not as big of a concern as the expense and the size of this shed. $10,000 will get you a modest shed but the drilling and running of pipe for water, and let us not forget electricity as well will run you a hefty second if not third or fourth mortgage. Let us also not forget the Natural gas or the LP he will need for the boiling of wort.

Possible male menopause phase sometimes has me worried. “I’m fed up with work and want to make brewing my occupation.” Can we spell debtors prison!

Chapter Seven: Ok dear, you win!

Did I mention the trap? My daughter attends college in Wisconsin. The beer and cheese state of the Midwest. On the way back there is this cute little Swiss Chalet that sells beer-making supplies and is also a great place to stop and get an ice cream cone. On this particular weekend stop the store was having a sale on winemaking kits. I like wine. My husband buys a kit $89. Do not need to purchase any jugs because many of the supplies needed for beer making are the same for wine making. Good value.

We get home and the box sits on my counter for two weeks. I get irritated and he suggests that if I help him make the wine it will be off my kitchen counter. I agree. I am hooked.

I read the instructions as we go along. I marvel at the spices and flavoring that are added. I am amazed at how quickly the little perky thing that shows the activity of “the guys” is perking along. The final straw, I take a whiff of the fermenting grape. It is heaven and I am hooked. We are now contemplating the expansion of a grape vineyard on our ten acres. Plants are order and the first weekend in April my guy is off to  Wisconsin  to learn how to tend the vines.

To quote one of my favorite and wise Americans, Benjamin Franklin…

“Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

The end.

LAST WORD!!!! A Brewer’s Wife Prerogative…..

I want to thank my husband for opening up a whole new world to me. I know longer can stomach the taste of Miller, Bud or any of those other ever popular beers I use to enjoy during my college years.Like my taste in wines, my taste buds have majored.

I also want to thank him for the beer and mead knowledge he has passed on to me. At a resent beer-tasting event (his idea of taking the wife out on a great night on the town) I was able to carry on a rather impressive conversation about beer with two gentlemen. There comment to my husband was, “where did you ever find such a gem?” At age 46 this was a big come-on!

Take heart ladies. It may be rough in the beginning but remember our motto…

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Therefore, it can only get better!

I would love to hear your stories and comments. I believe that there is one trait we Brewer’s Wives have and that is a great sense of humor. So e-mail me at I am in the thinking stages of writing future articles entitled:

So cast your vote and write me!!! Or tell me not to write anymore.

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