Sunday, June 13, 2010

Brewing Beer

I started brewing beer a few weeks ago and it was finally ready to drink today. Alyssa and I have been fermenting food and drink for a while now (see prior posts on wine, sauerkraut, sourdough, etc.) and beer was the next untouched frontier. I have friends who brew beer and I've been itching to try it out. All I needed was a pictographic step-by-step how-to guide to show me that it wasn't that hard. Luckily, Alyssa came across this article on brewing small batch beer from

Alyssa and I needed to pick up some supplies for our latest batch of wine, so we took a long trek across town to the Homebrew Emporium for beer ingredients, too. If you're in the Boston, Troy, or Worcester areas this is the place for all your homebrew needs. The employees at the Davis Square location might come across as a little snarky, but you have to remember that: 1. We're in Boston and 2. They're beer GEEKS. They really know their stuff and are really trying to be helpful. They want to make sure that your first few batches come out drinkable so that you keep coming back. Each employee also has a different method of brewing, and if you have time it can be fun to listen to their bickering discussions.

If you are going to brew beer, keep the time in mind. Don't be like me and start at 10PM, thinking it will only take an hour. It takes an hour just for the grains to soak! At that late hour you might even forget (like me) to add one of the grains!

The brewing process takes about 3 hours, depending on how fast you can cool down the wort. After that is a 2 week wait while it bubbles away in the carboys. Unlike wine, most of the work is finished when the brew is fermenting. The next steps are priming and bottling.

The recipe says that it makes about 1 gallon of beer to fit a 1 gallon carboy. I don't care for drinking a gallon all at once, so I bottled in 11 12oz. bottles. You might have done the math and realized that 11 * 12 = 132 and 1 gallon is 128 oz. One of the beers is a light beer.

With proper planning, the hardest part of brewing is waiting for the beer to be done. I set the bottles in a paper bag in the hallway for 2 weeks where the flavors had time to mix and mellow. I decided to try one tonight.


It was a little cloudier than I'm used to, but it tasted clean, light, and slightly hoppy. Luckily, it's too hoppy for Alyssa to drink right now. Maybe the batch will continue to mellow, or she might develop a taste for hops. Until then, it's all mine.

The next step is to get a larger brewing pot (8 qts is just large enough to make a 1 gallon batch) and a new primary to ramp up the volume. I see a nut brown ale on the horizon.

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