Someone once told me I should blog about beer, homebrewing specifically, in addition to bikes. Bikes and beer go together very well. I won’t philosophize on why, but those in the know can likely offer many reasons including the fabulous Tour de Fat. Suffice it to say, I love bikes and I love beer. I also love bacon, but that’s beside the point. Starting now, I’ll be integrating future homebrewing adventures into my blog posts.
I started homebrewing with a friend weeks before Easter 2010, it’s an easy hobby to get into, and when done incrementally is quite affordable. First batch was a Belgian Strong Ale, we drank it at Easter brunch, 7 days after it had been bottled. It wasn’t very good, but we didn’t know it needed to age 3-4 weeks in the bottle. Since then, We’ve probably brewed 15+ batches in the last year. We started with extract brewing, as most homebrewers do, but quickly moved to all grain after 5 batches if I remember correctly. Homebrewing is an excellent hobby, and the fruits of your labor are tasty! I only wish I had started homebrewing 10 years ago. I would have saved significant money over all the good kegs I’ve bought for parties, and shit, maybe I’d have opened a microbrewery by now.
I’m at the point now, where I prefer my homebrew, and certain other homebrewers’ beer, over commercial craft beer. I’ll buy a 6 pack of a commercial craft beer I used to drink regularly, and certain ones just don’t taste the same. That’s not to say I’ve abandoned commercial beer. I still go to microbreweries and bars that serve craft beer, etc. I still enjoy commercial craft beer, but now I have a new option in homebrew.
These days I brew all grain. It’s a process that involves buying milled grains (malted wheat and/or barley), mashing them in a large plastic beverage cooler (think steeping them like tea leaves in hot water) to extract the ferment-able sugars, boiling the resulting liquid (wort, pronounced “wert”) for an hour while adding hops and sometimes other flavorings (spices, fruit, etc) and finally adding beer yeast when the wort has cooled, then leaving it to ferment a few weeks. After that it’s bottling (or kegging) and aging where the carbonation process happens. Lastly, CONSUME!
What I’m brewing right now? A pale ale that will be aged in secondary over oak wood chips for entry in a homebrew club competition in the “Wood Aged Beers” category. In the next few days a Schwarzbier using a steam lager yeast will have begun. This will also be aged over oak chips for entry into the same competition. These will be my first competition entries.
My favorite beer brewed to date would have to be a Hopped Honey Brown brewed late last summer. It simply turned out fantastic. I’ll share the recipe sometime. If you want to get into brewing, I would strongly recommend searching out a homebrew club in your area. If there isn’t one, find a homebrew supply shop, they are a great resource, too. If you have neither, start by buying a beer making kit with an extract kit to start. There are many online homebrew shops, and it is best to find one as close to you (geographically) as possible for reasons you’ll discover later.
Clockwise starting at top left: Porter, Scottish, Blackberry Wit and a Hefeweizen. Fermented at 68F in a converted fridge.