This year my wife and I were fortunate to welcome a baby boy to our family. He is our first child so this Father’s Day has a whole new meaning for me. Originally, I was going to write a blog about pairing beers with mowing lawns and ugly ties. But when I sat down it occurred to me that, in more ways than one, brewing has prepared me to be a father.
We have a bunch of amazing fathers on our team. After some thought, I decided it would be fun to compare notes on the things brewing has taught us about being a dad. In no particular order, here’s what we came up with:
#1 – Doing Things With One Hand
One of the first things you learn in the brewery is how to hold a hose in one hand and flick a tri-clamp around a tank connection. Describing this activity is a lot easier than executing it. Especially when you are wearing large, awkward PPE that limits dexterity. This is not unlike the first couple weeks of having a newborn. You learn to cook, eat, clean bottles and do all your other chores with your little one in tote. Also, I’m glad we pack beer in cans. Way easier to open cans with one hand.
Dan McLean, Brewer – twin boys, 1 year-old: “Must be nice to have one hand to get things done. With my twins, I have no hands to do things.”
#2 – Yeast Doesn’t Sleep & Neither Do Kids
Being the lab guy, I often tell my coworkers that I have a lot of friends. Every yeast cell is my friend. After all, they are really making the beer! Each batch gets about 3.5×1014 yeast cells. And none of them sleep! As soon as they are added they get to work and there is no stopping them until they are done. What you may not know about brewing is we are always taking care of the yeast. There is a tremendous amount of preparation that goes into each brew just to keep the yeast happy. When it comes to a newborn, nothing prepares you for the first night home.
After a long labor [three days] we were feeling pretty good leaving the hospital. Feeding was going well. He passed all his test and met benchmarks. Things were going great. We had a plan. We came home and introduced him to his grandma. We were off to the races with our baby boy all to ourselves. Then night came…
He would not sleep a wink. We thought we knew what we were doing but actually had no clue. Were we feeding him too much? Too little? When you are sleep deprived you can’t even think straight. Feed him every two hours, right? But what they don’t tell you is that every two hours starts when they begin eating, not when they stop. And it takes them an hour-and-a-half to eat! After changing a diaper, its time to start feeding them again. Good luck sleeping.
Joey Foster, Cellarman – son, 4 years-old & daughter, 2 years-old: “The lack of sleep never ends with kids. Currently, my son is waking up at 1:00AM, stripping down naked and jumping into bed with us! No one is getting any sleep.”
#3 – Cleaning & Sanitation
The saying goes that brewing is 95 percent cleaning. And that is 100 percent true. It’s all about cleaning up for the yeast. You clean the tank. Prep the tank. Sanitize the tank. Fill the tank, and repeat. When you have a kid you go home and do it all again. Clean the kid. Dry the kid. Dress the kid. Feed the kid, and repeat. The tanks are smaller (i.e a bottle) and the baby is crying. At least the yeast are pretty quite.
Brian Devinney, Director of Sales – two daughters, 8 & 17 years-old: “Sometimes to keep things in perspective when I get upset about a mess I’ll say ‘the days are long, but the years are short.’ It’s my favorite parenting mantra.”
#4 – Patience
This was by far the most popular response from our brewery dads. I remember It was a long 41 weeks waiting for my little guy. I felt like that took a lot of patience. Now that he is here, I am still finding patience for him, my partner, and myself. Great beer takes patience. Brewing a single batch may happen in a day but we have to wait for fermentation, maturation, and then packaging. It feels like forever.
Paul Marichal, Brewery Operations – son, 43 years-old: “Kids are ready when their ready, just like beer. As soon as they are hungry, they are ready to eat. If that have to go to the bathroom, they are ready right then.”
#5 – Teamwork & Family
Truly great beer is not made by one person. It takes a team of great people to do this. I think Rob Hackett, Production Coordinator – two sons, 6 & 9 years-old – said it best:
“You have to divide and conquer, whether it is being at two different baseball fields in two different cities, or bottle feeding one while the other gets their diaper changed.”
Everyone has a part in bringing up a great beer. I am thankful for my team at Baxter, just as I am thankful for my partner and our family. Together we will raise a great kid. I may not be the most experienced father, but I think that Father’s Day is all about family and taking the time to celebrate with your team. I hope one day my son gets to be a father and find the same kind of happiness I have.
To all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day, and cheers!