By Mitch Leavelle
If I had a dollar for every time a hobby of mine opened up new opportunities for me, I'd have exactly two. Two dollars.
Fifteen years ago, I worked all summer long to buy my first electric guitar. I had already been playing clarinet since I was in third grade, but I had been getting into hardcore, punk, and ska music at that time, and I really wanted to start a band. For the next four years, I played that thing every day after school while most of my other friends were going to the movies or playing video games. I broke up with a girl for cutting into my guitar playing time. After several attempts, I was able to start the punk/ska band I had always dreamed of, and by the time I got out of high school I was ready to motivate them to get on the road. Over the next six years, I traveled around the entire country many times, met a ridiculous amount of incredible people, including those who would eventually motivate me to move to New Orleans, and I was able to spend every day doing what I loved.
Two years ago, I brewed my first batch of homebrew. It was an imperial stout extract recipe my brother Bryan sent me. He had just started Our Mutual Friend with a couple of his buds and was trying to convince me to start brewing my own beer. Me and my roommate, drummer, and best bud John soon got addicted and were brewing a five gallon batch every week, enlisting our friends to help us bottle everything on Saturdays. We were learning new things, teaching others, and bringing people together. It brought our heads out of our normal, every day grind at our demanding jobs. It got us off our asses on the weekends when we would have been sitting around watching Netflix all day. Needless to say, we loved it, and as every homebrewer does, we started kicking around the idea of starting a small brewery of our own.
As my niece's due date creeped closer, I knew I had to move to Denver. I made a quick decision, left my life in New Orleans, and headed towards the Rockies. Being in warehouse management for several years, that was the first job I took. I would come into OMF on weekends to brew my five gallon batches and sometimes cover shifts for bartenders or shovel out the mash tun for my brother when he was too tired to do it himself. After about six months, They offered me a job making beer with Jan and I walked out of that dirty warehouse within two hours, both middle fingers in the air, and started here the next day. This couldn't have happened if I didn't start making beer beforehand. I would be useless in here if I never got up off my ass to make my own beer. Aside from all the less tangible positive reasons to unglue your eyes from the screens, consider what doors may open for you down the road by cultivating a new skill and learning more about the world around you. I'm living proof that things most consider to be a "waste of time" or something you "do for fun" can eventually lead to much, much more than that.
Plus, It's real fun.