Just a Homebrewer in Harahan

(where Forrest Gump and Baron Munchausen meet for a cold one)

                                                                      by Mike Retzlaff

As a young yet gifted child, I started brewing beer at home.  My parents, both raging alcoholics, were quite pleased with the results of my early efforts and encouraged me at every juncture to continue.  As long as the home-brew flowed, the constant beatings diminished to the point that my bones mended and the bruises disappeared.  I attended grammar school long enough to learn to read, write, and cipher.  After the conviction and imprisonment of my parents, I became a ward of the State and decided to avoid High School by enrolling in the prestigious Weihenstephan Brauschule in Freising, Bavaria, Germany.  A loophole in the rules of the Federal Abused Children Program made this possible.  The school is part of the Technical University of Munich and is the home of Die Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, owned by the State of Bavaria and is the oldest working brewery in the world.  Upon graduation, I received my Diplom-Braumeister; a degree in Brewing Science and for many years now, have been a Brewing Technical Advisor for several major breweries about the globe.

Some time back whenever US Presidents and other dignitaries have come to town, they’ve stopped by the house for a “cold one.”  On one truly memorable visit, President Ronald Reagan brought Premier Gorbachev from the USSR with him.  Their schedule was tight and could only stay for one but I convinced Mikhail to dismantle the Berlin Wall over that single beer.  He asked me to “accept this gesture as a Christmas present.”  I found him to be quite a character and very personable.  Generally, the part of the Presidential and State Department visits I enjoyed the most was offering the Secret Service Agents one of my tasty home-brews.  I knew they couldn’t as they were on duty, but I guess that sadistic quirk exposes my “dark side.”

As a consultant to InBev of Leuven, Belgium (formerly InterBrew with 120 breweries and nearly 200 brands), I originally suggested the buy-out of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. of St. Louis, Mo.  To complete this acquisition, I suggested providing the Board of Directors with “golden parachutes” and pushing them out of the aircraft, so to speak.  The formation of AB-Inbev seems to be working in favor of both the company and its customers.  Budweiser, Michelob, and the several smaller factions of the business have expanded their line of products to compete with the micro breweries around the country. They are now producing several quality products with flavor in addition to the manufactured industrial swill of which the many beer guzzlers here in the States have become accustomed. 

I would surely have expended more of my time toward brewing and the brewing industry but my duties, as Manager of Insignificant Activities for a major manufacturer with a local repair facility, could on no account be neglected.  In my spare time away from my job, I started working on a system to convert spent grain from the brewing process into a renewable energy source.  It could replace upwards of 11% of the fossil fuel now being used, at least in North America.  With “green technology” in place throughout most of central Europe, the savings in Great Britain, Belgium, Germany, and Czech Republic should show an even more remarkable gain.  When fully developed and implemented, I project the elimination of a carbon foot print for this energy source.  The process doesn’t generate any emissions and the by-products can be utilized by a number of other down-stream industries. 

It’s going a bit slowly right now as I’ve had a few health problems since I retired and admittedly spend too much time watching silly cat videos on YouTube.

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