This winter we finally got around to brewing our own beer. A bunch of our pals have been at it for a while and we had long been intrigued by their tales of the process. I don’t want to give away the ending of our experiment here in paragraph one, but suffice it to say, we will surely be brewing again before the month’s over.
Ok, so first things first. Most of the equipment we used came from a brew kit. (This one, to be exact. Thanks Mom!) A brew kit is pretty great because, as kits are known to do, it provides you with all of the supplies and tools you will need to brew successfully. The big ticket items are the glass carboy (used to hold the beer during the fermentation process) and the secondary fermenter contatiner (basically a big bucket with a nozzle for bottling). We had to make a few additional purchases in addition to the brew kit, but the add-ons were minimal: bottle caps, high pressure nozzle for cleaning out bottles, and a large pot for boiling the ingredients. We also referred to a copy of The Complete Joy of Home Brewing, which provides a lot of great information and instruction. I definitely recommend this book to first-time brewers because, in addition to directions, it provides an excellent summary of the science behind fermentation, which we both found extremely intriguing. For instance, it provided Heath with the clarity and confidence to proclaim that “alcohol is basically yeast poop” so you know it’s a good read.
Once we did a quick survey of our inventory and concluded that we did in fact have the necessary tools to become brew masters, we set off for Austin Homebrew Supply to get the ingredients for creating our first batch. Shelf after shelf was stocked with plastic containers labeled as “malt extract” and other unfamiliar head-scratchers. It was a little intimidating at first glance, but the knowledgeable yet laid back staff set our minds at ease. Essentially the way it works you flip through a book with hundreds of recipes and let the cashier know which recipe you’ve chosen to try your hand at. They were great about telling us which recipes were easy, which ones were more difficult and what other folks had said about their experiences with that particular brew. We walked away with the materials for a peach hefeweizen, not a traditional choice, but one we were nonetheless excited to try.
Once we were back at home we immediately got going. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve created the following step-by-step guide for other brewing novices.
Last weekend we had our first sip of our trial batch. And all I have to say is a satisfied “ahhh.” Our first sampling came before the beer was completely carbonated, but it was still a glorious moment to take that first drink and discover that we aren’t incompetent DIY brewers. Yes! This actually tastes like beer! It actually tastes like good beer! One week later, the brews are nice and carbonated. The bottles make that exciting “ssssck” sound when you first remove the cap and the beer foams and bubbles slightly when when you pour it into the pint glass. Such joy we’ve derived from just that moment and the drinking hasn’t even started.
In summation, the process was fairly easy, though it does require attention to detail and a lot of patience. But, like any cook or brewer, I love the science behind the process and the satisfied feeling we have when sharing it with friends. I’m giddy thinking about what creations we might turn out next. An IPA, a stout, a pilsner? The sky is the limit. Doodle house? More like Brewdoole house!