Monday, August 8, 2011

And now for something completely different

I like beer. I don't drink large quantities of it though because a beer gut it tough to get rid of. As such I make sure I only drink good beer. You're not likely to ever find any 'Macro-brews' like Budweiser or Coors light etc, in my fridge.

I've been pretty interested in making my own after enjoying some homebrew the inlaws made. These are also the same folks that got me into making (nobody's gonna make ME wise!). So here's a quickie pic dump of my first batch in situ:
Here's the initial boiling, there's a couple cheese cloth bags with steel cut oats in the water (note the floaters that escaped) This was boiled for a good while...kinda lost track, but won't do anything but yield a bit more flavor and color so that's ok. At this point several pounds of liquid malt is also added for the sugars and flavoring. Handy propane burner makes all the difference in the world, you can do this on your stove but beer in process has a unique smell.

Now it's time for the hops, apparently this part of the process is called....(wait for it) 'hopping' the wort. Different strains of hops have different flavors and smells and are a major part of the way various beers taste. These are very nice 'Crystal' hops from the Willamette Valley if I remember correctly what I was told. The is a cream ale, supposed to have a nice hearty 'body', creamy texture and very little hoppy bitterness. These were boiled in the 'tea' for 15 minutes then scooped out.

I missed pics of a few steps; after it was boiled and strained of solids the resultant 4 and a half gallons of beer soup was then cooled with a coil of copper tubing connected to a garden hose. No waters is added to the mix here, just cold water passed the the tubing to bring down the temp. Once it was down to ~75 degrees it was time to pour it into the primary fermenter. That's a fancy name for a 7 gallon bucket with a water trap on top.

Here's the fermenter, floating in the liquid is a hydrometer that gives an indication of it's initial gravity which if I remember was something like 1.14 'somethings.' This was topped off to a level five gallons with the rest of the distilled water we bought at first and wine yeast is scattered on top of this, the lid and water trap are then put on (not shown) and you leave it alone for a couple weeks. During this time it's not unusual for it to 'blow', the yeast eats the sugars in the liquid (I believe this is actually called the 'must' and it is.......musty. Anyway the yeast chows on the sugar and poops out alcohol and CO2 gas which foams up a lot. sometimes blowing the water trap and lid right off. Be ready.  The water trap lets the CO2 out but keeps oxygen from entering.....cuz that'd be bad. 
Here it is during the first 'racking' where the now very beer like liquid is siphoned off leaving a sludge in the bottom made up of used up yeast, odd proteins and gunk that settles from the 'tea' that we made initially. If you have a vegetable garden or flower beds, put this shit in t he soil. Plants go berserk with this as compost. Ma & Pa B regularly get 10 pound zucchinis and 50 pounds of tomatoes out of their garden. It's kinda crazy..... Anyway, once this has been racked it's set back in it's corner for secondary fermentation; basically the remaining yeast in the brew is stimulated by the agitation of the fluid and goes to it one last time adding just a bit more kick to the alcohol level. Other than a slight vegetable undertone to the flavor, it's fine to drink right now though it's 'cask' style....non-carbonated and a little weak for homebrew at around 7-8%alc. Final should be closer to 10 or 11%.

Then you barbeque. Nice inch thick steaks seared rare, grilled red potatoes and some damn fine grilled peppers, filled with three kinds of cheese and crisp'd up nicely. And yeah...that's also three fingers of Glenfiddich. The B's don't fuck around with cheap beer or hooch. Sunday dinner on the deck is always a nice time.


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