Purpose – About Magnum Opus and Me
My name is Joshua Sales, and I am a homebrewer (and the crowd says “Hi Josh”). Professionally, I work at a small microelectronics R&D packaging business programming robots for automated assembly, and doing work developing next generation ultra-high bandwidth mid-board micro flyover optical engine assemblies for copper line replacement in server farms, super-computing, high-speed camera data acquisition, and medical imaging. As I sit here and write this down, I wonder why I am stepping outside of my comfort zone. I tend toward being an introverted person, much preferring to stand along the edges of life, avoiding eye contact and never speaking. By creating a space, and actually writing something down for once, I am opening myself up so that anyone who is curious can look into my thought process and my world. Brewers are a supportive bunch, but there are also those trolls who like to criticize. I believe this online effort will worth it. I like to read others people’s thoughts as they put them out there for the world to see, so I hope that the reciprocate is also true.
I feel it’s best to start at the beginning. In 2013 I was trying to think of activities my wife could enjoy doing with me. I had plenty of great ideas for activities I could be enjoying with my wife, but (as all guys know) reality is acutely tangible and well, real. We have been married for 12 years and had kids right off the bat. Because of this we tended not to do much together, and spent a great deal of time taking care of our kids. We had a bright idea to spread them out so that there would not be any sibling rivalry that normally happens with closely aged kids. So, anyway, in 2013 my wife pregnant with our third (the other two were 12 and 5, I think…), I brought up the bright idea to make homemade wine. Running the numbers, it seemed cheaper than buying bottled wine, the time investment seemed reasonable at only a few hours a weekend, and the initial equipment “kit” would cost what we would spend taking the entire family out to dinner. Once agreed upon, I purchased a groupon deal for an online kit, and within a few weeks a large box arrived at our townhouse rental. After making homemade wine with my wife, I thought of trying to ferment other things as well. It so happened that a new home winemaking center opened near our house that also carried pre-packaged beer kits. After a few discussions, I purchased a class and a beer kit, and I was able to step through the process of an extract beer kit right there in the store. Over the course of every other weekend I would schedule about an hour or two to go back into the wine center to step through additional tasks, with the last weekend being bottling. Needless to say I am now hooked. I spent a bit of money on the Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazan and read it cover to cover. Significant amount of time is spent borrowing books from the library and researching online forums trying to get the basics and a defined process down. I had a friend who had a turkey fryer pot with a lid that held about 10 gallons of water full and I purchased it off of him for about 5 dollars. As a test (because I read it online) I filled it with 5 gallons of water and put it on my stove top set on the largest electric coil to high. The water never boiled. It sat on that coil for almost 5 hours! I remember the highest I could get the water temp was about 185 degrees F. What a failed attempt! I was so relieved that I listened to the internet, that I purchased a bayou classic propane burner from amazon and I was off to be a man and make my own beer! After a few rounds of my friends choking down my store bought kits (who knows how long that liquid malt had been in the can) and feeling embarrassed about it (their words were very encouraging!) I decided that it was time to look into doing away with that liquid and dried malt crap.
In 2013 we were saving furiously to purchase a house. The housing market had taken a nose dive during 2008-2010 and was not recovering yet, but we knew it was going to be soon. We had an offer in on a “good bones” short sale house a few blocks from where we were renting our townhouse. As I sat surfing the internet looking around at brewing stuff, I ran across a classified ad from a brewery in Arizona about a commercial pilot brewery system that was RIMS based. I knew exactly how much they went for new, and thought this deal was too good to be true. Immediately I contacted the owner and worked out a deal. I would go pick it up, no shipping it, for what it priced for online. I am so happy I did , as I was not the first person to contact him. He didn’t want to mess with shipping it, so agreed to my terms, even though others were offering more. Now, like I said, we were saving money for a house that we had an offer on, and one of the big things you are not supposed to do is move large amounts of money around in accounts. After talking to the lender and begging for permission, I took a little road trip down to Arizona to get my stuff. What a road trip! I brought my son and a friend to keep me awake, help with the heavy lifting, and have a good time, which we did. I got this system home, spent some time cleaning it up and ordering missing parts that had been lost by the original brewery. I then sat in my garage for months collecting dust as the drama of life took over.
We purchased the house (the short sale) after waiting a very long time, like 6 months for the bank to accept the offer. A significant amount of time was spend cleaning, and painting, and cleaning, stripping out carpet, and cleaning, and putting new floors in, and cleaning, and moving, and cleaning. I thought about the length of time it had been since I brewed, and after expressing some frustration, I realized it was me holding me back from brewing. So on a very cold and windy day, I think the weather was predicting rain/snow mix I pulled out my used but new to me brewing stand. I brewed three different beers that day, all of them all grain. I didn’t know anything about pH, or brewing salts, or treating your water, or how frustrated my wife would become after a 14 hour brew day, but I was able to follow the recipes and cranked out some great tasting brews that day.
Desiring More – My Purpose
In the Summer of 2015 I began to desire a change in my life. I wanted to become serious about brewing professionally, and open my own brewery. Some very deep heart-to-heart conversations with my wife provided the beginnings of a plan. She was going to go back to school and begin a working career afterwards to provide a stable income. The end result would allow me to take the risks that I wanted to take, and still be able to provide a stable environment for my family. In the interim, I will continue to work, research how to start a brewery, develop beer recipes, define and adhere to a process, make improvements, and explore the beer brewing culture. My goal is to open a brewery, this blog is to help document that journey, the research and development, the beers I evaluate (my own and others), the recipes I create, the thoughts I have, and allow a wider audience along for the journey with me.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.