Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ad Astra Per Aspera

The state motto of Kansas reads: Ad Astra Per Aspera, meaning "To the Stars through Adversity". This phrase is one of my favorites, as while the message is simple, it is enduring, inspiring and full of truth.
As a Kansas native, I hardly paid the phrase any attention in my childhood there. However, the further down the road I have travelled, the more significant it has become.
Our good friends at the Lawrence, KS brewery, FreeState just recently began bottling their fantastic beers out of a new production facility. They have been brewing their flagship, Ad Astra Ale, and many others, at their brewpub for over two decades. In October of 2008, with their new facility nearly operation, it was ravaged by a fire, destroying their raw ingredients and damaging most of the equipment. Still, they stuck with it, rebuilt and pushed onward. Ad Astra Per Aspera.
My wife and I got married last winter, and have been putting up with the 'little love bird' type comments since the engagement, over a year ago. Truthfully, we've had our trials, our hardship. After spending our senior year of college together she had to go to grad school and could only afford to do it with in state tuition, and live at home, so she moved 700 miles away. I chose to stay, as my prospects in the brewing industry were better here. But we survived the two years apart, full of short weekends phone calls and red-eye flights, and just importantly, another year together, afterwards, and then decided to get married. She loves her career, and so do I. Oh, and we're still fine with each other, too. Ad Astra Per Aspera.
When we took our honeymoon I brought along some Kurt Vonnegut to read, including The Sirens of Titan. Kurt made it through his mother's suicide, the firebombing of Dresden as a POW and years of studying mechanical engineering to become one of most influential authors of his generation. His novel, The Sirens of Titan, chronicles the adventures (misadventures?) of Malachi Constant, the (formerly) richest man in the world, and Winston Niles Rumfoord, a wealthy explorer who is displace in space-time (as happens to Vonnegut's characters) by an encounter with a chrono-synclastic infudibulum. A Martian invasion of Earth and more ensues. Key moments in the book are marked with the phrase: Ad Astra Per Aspera.
MBC has been open for about two years now, and brewing for almost a year and half. Despite our cobbled together system, inefficiencies of scale and other limitations we continue to innovate. Releasing St. Louis' first sour ale, winning Riverfront Times Best Beer 2009 and crafting the hoppy, malty, smoky, spicy and interesting ales and lagers has kept us on the cutting edge of the Midwest's brewing revolution. In honor of our perseverance, Kurt's, and that of our friends at FreeState, this Memorial Day weekend we are brewing Per Aspera Pilsner. We grew up our own lager yeast, the hard way and are conducting a tradition step mash of Pilsner, Vienna and Melanoidin malts and adding plenty of Magnum, Hallertau Mittlefruh and Celeia hops. This complex but refreshing lager will help us bear what looks to be severly hot summer. Ad Astra Per Aspera.