Saturday, May 26, 2007


My first homebrew.
At my home that is.
I cracked one open and poured myself a bit in honor of the new addition to our family. I figured he was a few days early, so why not try the beer a little early too?

You see, beer takes a certain amount of time to "condition" in the bottle, and at just under two weeks this one needed a bit more time. It was good and all, but even just a week later it's already better.

I wrote about making ginger ale a while back, but in retrospect, that was really just a dry run. No, make that wet. Whatever. What I mean is that this was my first attempt in the comfort of my own home at making an ale style beer that was from a recipe, had a more or less known alcohol content, and a preconceived notion of what it should taste like. All done with a few friends a family, under the supervision of myself. I like it that way.

With a borrowed 15 gallon pot on the stove and ingredients assembled, we got to boiling and mixing. The pot was muy enormo and nearly covered all four burners of my ancient stove. It appeared more efficient to just go with the front two, so away we went. We cracked grains, and sterilized stuff while enjoying a few rounds of......what else? Beer. You need inspiration while delving into such tasks.

The actual brewing part is much like making a gigantic cauldron of soup. Straightforward and pretty easy, with plenty of room for interpretation and lots of regional variations. Sounds to me like even a little kid could do that.

Well, really she's stirring it after the brew when it is crucial to cool the "wort" down quickly and get it bottled. Since monkey wanted to help, and there really isn't any alcohol involved yet (just boiling water, but she's pretty good around that) I figured why not. Tiny little idle hands cause trouble right?

With the wort cooled and the yeast "pitched" I transferred it to a few sterile glass carboys and brought it upstairs to place in the warmest part of the house. After a few brief hours, fermentation was going strong creating very active convection and causing copious amounts of foam to burble out. After getting the initial foamy burst on my bedroom floor, I decided it was time for the beer to sleep in the bath for the night.

The next morning it was still foaming, but not nearly as vigorously, so I cleaned out the air-lock valves and put them back on. It looked like around a gallon of beer had pumped itself out of each bottle. Note to self, plan accordingly next time and make even more.

Fast forward to two weeks later and many bottles collected, cleaned and sterilized. Now was the time to transfer the beer to bottles, adding a pinch of "priming" sugar to each and using a nifty capper.

It's the first moment of truth for the brew. You quiver and maybe even wince while cracking the seal on the carboy. You think: this for damn sure better be good and not skunky cause we cleaned everything like crazy good.

The first whif and........oh, that's good. You take a big swig while getting the siphon started for transferring to the bottles and halfway through the first, you realize that the growing warmth in your completely empty stomach is from alcohol that you made. Hell yeah!

You do a little happy dance, until you realize that it's gonna take well over an hour to let gravity do it's work. With any luck, the siphoning will have to be restarted, resulting in another gulp or two. Ah what am I talking about? I put some in a glass and we passed it around the bottling crew and agreed. It's gonna be a long few weeks until it's done.

Thank the goddess for early births, because we needed an excuse to fire up the grill, char some flesh, and crack open a bottle. Besides, Paul was having a burger thingy and I really wanted to participate, but my timing wasn't exactly great.

Wait! This just in.....maybe, maybe........oh hell, I guess not with that whole time difference and all. Damn!

Well, rest assured Paul, on the birthday of my son, while enjoying my first homebrew, I thought about you guys. I thought that you just might agree that what you need to ring in a new family member is a nice burger and a beer.

And for the record, that burger is grass fed local beef with tons of chopped onions, a few cloves of garlic and a dash of red pepper flakes, grilled up good over mesquite and served on a homemade english mufin. Served with a few Italian sausage and a salad made entirely from ingredients in my yard.

So, I might not have made the burger deadline, but I have a healthy beautiful newborn to take care of and a few more beers laying around to keep me busy. Wish me luck.


Freya and Paul said...'ll be supplying the beer for the Ballyhoo then?
We don't have mesquite but we do have some Jack Daniels Wood Chips so they'll have to do.
Thanks for the entry - we'll allow you your lateness just this once, as, I suppose, having a baby is a good enough excuse!

chilebrown said...

Congrats on your new Monkey!!! You have everything going on. Salad, Home made muffins and beer. Keep on sourdoughin Bro!! Peace, Paul

HipWriterMama said...

Hope you're all catching up on your sleep. That burger looks and sounds so good. Thanks for the visual treat.


Rev. Biggles said...

Hmmm, I made gallons and gallons of homebrew, many years ago. To date, not one bottle was drinkable. Or was it the fact I couldn't keep up with demand? Prolly boffe.

Rev. Biggles