I lost my father to brain cancer about 1.5 years ago, he went from diagnosed to the Earth in 4 months. I still have 12 bottles from the batch that was our 1st and only batch we got to brew. I sealed them with wax but the batch was not meant to be stored indefinitely and all its flaws shine through but these are still very special to me. They are a link to my father and many of my friends and family know this.
Last year my soon to be father-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. They did not think he would be here to walk his daughter down the isle at our wedding last May. His treatments went very well and he got to do MANY things that was clearly "on borrowed time".
3 weeks ago things started to get bad. He was a home brewer and made a batch or 2 of beer but mostly did wines with his wife. There are over 200 bottles in their wine rack in the cellar that they made. He liked my beers but was not into making beer as his favorite beer was Miller Lite unless I had a non-hoppy homebrew for him which I always did.
I decided that I wanted to brew a special batch with the recipe based on his life and family that WAS designed to age well and could be stored for MANY years unlike the bottles I have. This is the recipe I came up with...
XXXXX and Son - American Dopplebock:
I am fully aware that this beer is not to a specific BJCP category and I could care less about that. The XXXXX represents his last name and he had 3 daughters. Since I did most of the work I added "and son" on to show that he is a father to me and to honor his families name.
Recipe batch size: 15.5 gallons I plan to brew this yearly for Oktoberfest this time of year to serve as my "dark beer" but the batch I made this year was a big 1/3 so I should end up with 5.15 gallons of drinkable beer.
37 lbs 6-row (1 pound for each year he was married)
4 lbs Munich (1 pound for each of his siblings)
4 lbs of Bonlander Munich (1 pound for each grandchild)
3 lbs of Vienna (1 pound for each son-in-law)
1 lbs of Honey malt (for his wife)
1 lbs Crystal 120 (for his oldest daughter)
1 lbs Cara special I (for his middle daughter)
1 lbs Cara special II (for his youngest daughter)
These additions were based on age and order of grandchildren. I decided to use them again because these kids are made of springs and I really can not think of anything more hoppy that is human. I used German hops for the boys and American hops for the girls. The little ones all added the addition that represented themselves.
4oz Perle @ 60
4oz Cascade @ 20
1oz Willamette @ 7
1oz Sterling @ 0
Yeast: The 2 oldest grandchildren (My niece and nephew) helped me make the starter and watched the stir plate for a good 20 minutes which is like 3 hours in 4 year old time.
Wyeast 2124 Bohemian Lager (His basement is 56F constant)
Lager for 60 days before cellaring for aging. this represents his age.
Special note: Add 3 cans of Miller Lite @ 60 min to the boil (I added 1 to my smaller batch.)
I will bottle these with O2 barrier caps, add a custom label, dip the cap in sealing wax and then wrap the bottle in aluminum foil to preserve the label and beer indefinitely.
A few days ago he was moved home and he never came out of the sedation from being moved. I was hoping that he would be able to pitch the yeast but after a few days of waiting it did not look promising so I made the starter yesterday. I got a late start on the brew day today at his house with a bunch of my equipment that I had brought over. I hit my numbers well enough and as I would have started the boil I had to shut off the power and go upstairs to be with him as he passed moments later, surrounded by his family.
After a period of time (I honestly have no clue) I started the boil and had the grand kids each add in their additions. Each one did it a little differently but I was ok with that. I cleaned up and will pitch the yeast tomorrow evening with the family after the wort cools a bit more. We will all be holding the flask when we pitch the yeast.
I had talked this over with him and my family before this all happened and they REALLY were excited about this special beer. This went well beyond the immediate family as far as support to do it. I also can not think of a serious better way to go than to be surround by family, on a brew day, that the beer being made was in my honor. FWIW No one knew when he would go but we all new it was going to be soon. I did not intentionally plan the brew day as his last day on Earth, it just happened that way. I would like to think that the wonderful smell of the wort in the air allowed him to relax and go in peace.
I am not looking for condolences. I get it, it sucks.
I liked the idea so I thought I would share. I really did not search this topic so if it exists already I blame lack of sleep and exhaustion.
This is meant to inspire others.