Illustration for article titled Stories Of Recovery: When This Man Started Brewing His Own Beer, His Friends Helped Him Stop

Often when we find ourselves falling astray, it’s the people we love who lift us up and set us back on the right path. That was certainly true for David Embler, a 31-year-old copywriter from Ventura, CA. When he started brewing his own beer using a starter kit he ordered online, it was his friends who came to his aid and helped him stop.

“During the worst of it, I was brewing three batches at the same time, bottling them myself,” said David, recalling a phase of his life he now looks back on with a mixture of shame and disbelief. “Ales, stouts, saisons: You name it, there’s a good chance I brewed it and probably foisted it on people whenever they came over to my house. I mean, I was hooked. I remember at one point I even flirted with the idea of starting a microbrewery.”


“That was probably my rock bottom,” David added.

Those were dark days for David and the people in his life who love and care about him.

Paul and Dana Gonzalez, two of David’s closest friends, found themselves watching helplessly from the sidelines as their friend descended deeper and deeper into the world of home-brewing, experimenting with dry hopping and liquid yeast cultures, and even naming his own brew, “David’s Specialty Porter.”

“David was a different person when he was brewing,” said Dana. “He was distracted. Harder to get ahold of. You’d go over to his house and there’d be dozens of empty beer bottles that you knew he was going to fill up with some seasonal ale and bring to a holiday potluck. It was heartbreaking.”


Paul remembers the night he realized just how bad David’s brewing had gotten:

“He came over for dinner one evening and brought this Pecan Doppelbock he’d just finished brewing,” Paul recalls. “I remember he set it on the table and started going on and on about its unique flavor profile and how he’d hopped it just right or whatever. I mean, you just could not get the guy to stop talking about this stupid beer he’d made. That’s when we knew that if we didn’t do something, we were going to lose him.”


So, they did something. One day, when David came back from work, Paul, Dana, and several other friends were there waiting for him, each prepared to read a statement about how his home-brewing had negatively affected them. David says that, hard as it was to hear, it was the wake-up call that set him on the road to recovery.

“Hearing about how I’d alienated all these people with my brewing really made it click for me,” said David. “The next day, Paul and Dana came over and helped me throw out a couple bags of hops and the rest of my brewing supplies. That was the day I got my life back.”


Almost a year later, David still hasn’t touched a brew kettle. He says that if it weren’t for his friends, he’d probably still be brewing a batch of extra-malty Belgian dubbel and inviting people over to his house for a “tasting night.”

Wow. The power of friendship is truly inspiring.


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