Kenneth Note: I asked the Field Gulls writers to participate in a special summer offseason “project” — to write about something other than the Seahawks. Even to write about something that has nothing to do with football, or sports. Just something they’re passionate about. We have a lot of talented voices at Field Gulls and I think it’s important for the voices to be able to take a break off from the team every once in awhile to shout about something else that they love.
I have recently started writing more thanks to a generous invitation from Kenneth. Truthfully, I think I create more work for him than I am worth, since he has to do magic to make my random ramblings make sense.
I am a recently retired USAF pilot. I flew F-16s for most of my career with one assignment flying MQ-9s at the end. I did and saw a lot of stuff. I have kept “STUFR” in my name and that may be odd to some, but it is actually normal to me. I was named STUFR nearly 20 years ago while I was assigned in South Korea. It is pronounced “stuffer” if you are wondering, which took some explaining to my new wife who wasn’t with me at the time. It is actually an acronym for “Stop Talking U F—king Retard”. I realize that it isn’t appropriate in any modern forum, but that is what it is. Nearly every fighter pilot name is actually based on something really stupid that they did and is embarrassing, they just sound cool.
With that said, my passion is beer. Not just any beer, but the beer that I make. I went to the University of Washington in the late 90s. In my junior year, I moved into a house with a few friends and quickly learned that it was a complete pain in the ass to get someone to buy us beer. We were all 20, but we were also all engineering majors, so we looked for a solution to our problem. Quickly we discovered that you could buy all the ingredients to make beer when you were 20 and the process was quite easy. It was the 90s in Seattle, so in our flannel shirts and hiking boots, we brewed beer. My girlfriend, who would end up being my wife and mother to four kids, quickly learned to love the smell of brewing, which is an acquired taste.
It was a wonderful bonding experience as we made great beers, terrible beers, and one that ended up as a box of bottle bombs. I still have most of the equipment that we used in our rental north on Roosevelt. Those are memories that I will enjoy forever.
My brewing slowed at that point. Pilot training is an 80-hour a week job for a year, so no real time for anything but study and sleep. The follow on training isn’t that much better, so it wasn’t until I acquired the name STUFR in Korea in 2001 that I would have finally had time to start brewing again. The only problem, for those of you who are too young to remember, we didn’t have internet mailing at that time. I was on dial-up and it was basically email and that’s about it. From there I went to Japan for a few years, where the beer sucks but the sushi rocks and then on to Germany. In Germany, I lived off of German and Belgium beers since we were right on the border. Internet companies were just starting and I was able to order supplies again and start brewing. After that I was back in the States and the land of high speed internet and was able to order supplies again and it was on.
I have been brewing for a long time. I brew all grain and keg into a four tap kegerator. I don’t have a specific style that I like more than others. I typically shift what I am brewing/drinking based on the seasons. Every year I brew a barley wine that I age in our basement. After about three years they typically peak into an epic bottle of wonderfulness.
If you ever happen to be in Layton, Utah, which would be really odd, let me know because I will always have a cold beer ready for you.