Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Adventures in Amatuer Brewing: Stout

Posted by Bill

Cum Nihil Relictum
"When There's Nothing Left"

As a lover of beer, naturally I have always thought about trying to brew it myself.  The art of brewing is ancient and subtle, but I figured if it could be done thousands of years ago, I should be able to manage it, especially with the wide range of modern home brewing conveniences.  Nevertheless, home brewing was always little more than a passing thought, until I saw a Groupon for a beer brewing kit.  This was surely a sign.  The only thing I like more than beer is a bargain, so I snapped it up!

Now, the kit did not include a pot to brew the beer in, so it wound up languishing in my closet while I fretted over having to buy a pot…retail.  But the beer would not be denied!  On a lark, I went to a silent auction with a friend (note: lark = free food and alcohol), and to my surprise there I found a pot that would suit my home brewing setup perfectly.  But could it be had for the right price?  In an attempt to test providence, I placed a meager $50 bid.  Winning the auction was surely a second sign.  I must lead my hops to the promised land!

But was I really going to embark on this quest?  Looking at all of the equipment arrayed before me I began to have doubts.  Was I, William Bradley, truly destined to brew?  Sure, they did it thousands of years ago, but they knew what they were doing.  They had to do it to survive.  Who was I but some lowly paralegal drunk on hubris?  It was then, in the depths of my doubt, that I heard a voice.  “If you can boil water, you can brew beer.  You can boil water can’t you, numbskull?”  My third sign.

Onto the stove the pot went!  Into the pot went water, and into the water went the grains.  The brewing had begun!  As I watched the temperature of the water rise, I was afraid that the stove would not produce enough heat to steep the grains, but the grains turned to wort and the extract was ready to be inserted.

After cooling the beer I transferred it to the fermentation bucket.  With this first batch I only had one fermentation stage and required three weeks of fermentation.  Now came the first challenge.  Having failed to plan very well, I wound up being out of town the last week of fermentation…  I solved this little problem with the creative solution of letting the beer ferment an additional week.  Mad brewing genius?  Yes, I think so.  Not wishing to make the same mistake twice, after I siphoned off the beer I went to my calendar and marked one month from the bottling date as “beer drinking day.”

One month later I was facing the first bottle of…whatever I had made.  Would it taste okay?  Would it be edible?  Would it even be beer?  Yes, yes, and yes!  I had done it!  I was now a Brewer!  The beer, an Irish stout, came out a little darker than I expected, but it was definitely beer and definitely very tasty. I did not measure the alcohol content but let’s just say that I was feeling pretty good after enjoying a few bottles, to get the sense of it, of course.

So, now that I am officially a home brewer, look forward to further accounts of my (mis)adventures in the topsy turvey home brewing.  One day you can look back and say, I knew him when…

We have been encouraging Bill to make a label for his home brew beer.
Thus far, Bill has been reluctant to formally adopt Bradley Hause

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