Homebrewing in the year 2050 - A Short Story By: Ben Bakelaar
It was early morning, 6am, and still dark outside. As I walked into the dimly lit room, lights quickly faded in, piping in nat sun that was stored in the roof fibers. The workbench across the room began its startup sequence, indicators whirring in simulated audio. The holodeck flicked on and immediately several screens popped up, showing a mix of text, images and video clips that I had queued up during yesterday’s research. A tri-d molecule hovered about a foot above the countertop, rotating slowly in its color-coded brilliance, like old fashioned holiday lights. It was a co-humulone molecule, shapred like a twisted tree branch. Rather than code it myself, I had bought an app designed by the Brewers Guild, and I thought it added a nice touch to the otherwise functional space.
Although it wasn’t necessary, I preferred engaging as many senses as possible. After all, that was the whole point of brewing, to get back in touch with nature and history. It was so easy now to just key in a chem recipe on the creator, it seemed most people had already given up cooking. Of course, the creator couldn’t make just anything. The real object had to first be fully scanned, broken down to its individual chemical chains and molecules. This was an expensive process that took about a week under lab conditions, so naturally the global corps had the money to scan and sell their products first. Water-based drinks were some of the easiest to replicate, and so there were already many recipes available for all styles of soda, coffee, tea, beer and wine. I had tried some of the classic German recipes released by Anheuser Global, and it wasn’t that they were bad. Actually, they were pretty good if you liked that style. I guess it was more just the thought of it that bothered me. Having grown up during the transition from nat food to creators, I had mixed feelings. It was better for the environment, for sure. Less resources were needed, and less waste was produced. But if I thought really hard, I imagined I could still taste something in created food, or rather a lack of something. Who knows though, it might have all just been in my head. It’s not like there was a technical difference between a recipe produced on a creator by a global corp versus the same recipe made by a homebrewer, so maybe I just had to get used to it.
I walked over to the workbench and checked the water and heat connectors. The meters on the wall socket showed there was only enough available for a 4 gallon batch. I double-checked, because I had planned on making 5 for a party I was throwing next month, and I was sure I had enough. Nope, definitely was low on resource credits. I pinged my community and found a few extra credits floating around. I left a note with my full digital signature saying I’d contribute back after the party. After punching in my conf code, the meter jumped up to 5. Good, ready to go.
I started filling the first basin with water, and added a chempac to simulate the mineral content I wanted. I had been doing some research on the net and chanced upon an article written by this homebrew enthusiast more than 50 years ago, in 1998. It was in an old format, hypertext. He described his experiments with brewing medieval ale, which is what I was after for my retro-theme party. It was pretty hard to imagine brewing back then! I meant the 1990s, forget medieval times. The equipment must have wasted a ton of nat resources, but then again, they didn’t have to worry about credits back then. Plus they did get credit for being part of the DIY movement against corp food and products. The basin was finally full with my mash water, and heated precisely to 74C. I pulled the sacks of grain I had ground yesterday from the cabinets underneath the sink, and dumped them in. Still no way around that! Another swipe and the water began recirculating.
From this point on, I could simply run the app I had drawn out, which would transfer the water to the next basin after it detected the right sugar content. Then it would heat up the wort to a boil and release the chempacs of hop molecules at the preset times. After boiling it would again transfer the wort into the next basin. I had rigged a freeze-chiller into the workbench conduits so that by the time the water transferred it was down to 21c or so. Finally, the yeast would drop in and the basin would seal itself shut for a few days while the natural fermentation process did its job. My design was pretty good, and used less resources than some of the other guys’ apps by a few credits, which never hurt. Recircing the mash water shaved about 30 minutes off the time needed to hit the right sugar content too, which meant not only saved time but energy creds too. Today though, I decided not to automate. To get the true feel for brewing, I would go manual, just like they used to do. So I sat down at the workstation, swiped over the sugar content monitor, and started doing some more research on medieval ales while I waited...