Letters to my Sister in Japan — Day 29

Dear Sister,

There is no better place to sit with family than the dinner table. Even typing out the words, “dinner table” tricks my brain into smelling a large, hot pot of beans on the stove and fresh tortillas on mom’s favorite comal. If I concentrate hard enough, I can hear the sounds of dad’s soccer games and I can see you, me, my mom, and everyone else sitting at the table, sharing stories or just talking about nothing. Of course, even in this imagined world, self-awareness eventually settles in, and someone — most likely your brother — will say: “Damn. We’re really Mexican, huh?”

My friend, also latino, was raised similarly. Whenever we talk about our families, the talks usually highlight the differences between our culture and popular American culture.

One key difference is craft beer. My friend correctly guessed that our parents wouldn’t like craft beer. My mother will try a sip of whatever crazy flavors I bring home, but my father will avoid any craft beer purchase I make. My friend attributes this disdain for varied beer flavors to the roles and expectations that our cultures place on alcoholic beverages.

“Beaners don’t want craft beer. They just want a Corona and some michelada mix.”

While I understand that there are differences in my parents’ culture and the cultures I’ve adopted, I think it has less to do with ethnicity, and simply more to do with timing. If you haven’t noticed, our parents are very old. For my mom, beer means something different because there wasn’t a market or a scene to explore beer flavors like the scenes that are popping up all over San Diego.

Somewhere along the way, I developed a “hoppy tooth” that enjoys tasting new and exciting brews from all over the world. I didn’t start drinking alcohol until my 21st birthday, and I don’t really drink much at all. (I’m not into drinking during the week.)

But a few years ago, I resolved myself to brewing my own craft beer, because it seemed less like an excuse to get drunk, and was more of an excuse to practice something rewarding, and express myself via my work and efforts.

Well, today, after a long time of waiting and personal excuses, I finally brewed and bottled 22 beers.

24 Empty Bottles of Beer in a Box, 24 Empty Bottles of Beer

I’m not kitchen-savvy, and my tastes are not particularly refined, but this homebrewing project has been very rewarding and very fun because I have zero clue what the beer will actually taste like. In 9 more days, we’ll be able to pop open some bottles and taste our efforts. Until then, I’ll be twiddling my thumbs.

(If this letter is short it’s because I’m falling asleep as I type this…)

Love,

Your Little Brother