This is not your parents’ retirement center. Trips to the YMCA and the mall might be fine for some, but the residents of a Bremerton facility wanted something just a little bit different.
They’ve gone from bingo to brewing at the Bay Pointe Retirement Community on Oyster Bay. While most of the 80 or so residents still like board games, puzzles, trips to the zoo and other typical pursuits, a small core group wanted something else: make beer.
And activities assistant Randy Webb was more than willing to give it a try.
“Just because they’re over the age of 80 doesn’t mean that they don’t want to do stuff that’s fun,” he said. “They don’t want to be coddled. They want to do it. They just might need a little help. We find activities that they like to do, and low and behold making beer for a little core group of them is something that they truly love.”
So the group visited a local brewer, took a course, and decided to brew-up an amber. It turned out pretty good.
“I was starting to get to like it,” 89-year-old Jean Hinderer said. “Then I got cut off. They didn’t give me no more.”
Hinderer was Webb’s primary brewer this week as they went for a nice honey ale in their second attempt at home brewing.
“This is all I do here,” she joked. “I don’t do anything else but this. I don’t go to bingo. I don’t go to this goofy tossing ball around. That’s not fun for me. I love doing this. We’re kind of thinking about starting our own brewery.”
Hinderer said she was never much of a beer drinker, but her dad brewed it as a home remedy. “I didn’t make it, but when my folks were gone I used to drink it until I got into some awful serious trouble” she said.
As Randy and Jean brought the aromatic hops and honey malt to a nice golden brown boil, the activity room filled with up with residents, drawn by the smell of their concoction.
Al Cook, 92, helped prep the ingredients and then watched as Hinderer stirred the boiling pot. “It’s something good that we can do,” he said. “So far it’s been successful. It’s done everything that we wanted it to do.”
In about three weeks, they’ll gather in the same room again to bottle about two cases. They’ll chill them down, and then crack them open.