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SunDeck
01-03-2006, 04:08 PM
My wife bought me a beer brewing kit for Christmas. It's great; goes hand in hand with my New Year's Resolution to balloon up to 240lbs by September.
My first effort is an Irish Stout.
The stuff is fermenting away in a closet as I type this, but we're weeks away from seeing whether this business is a success or a comical failure. At the very least, if I turn out to be a total beer brewing flunky it will not be a total loss because new skills have been acquired- I now know how to use a siphon and brew tea for a hundred people.

After my own first attempt, for anyone interested in trying this on their own, the following suggestions may help:

Make sure to write your own instructions clearly and deliberately.
I purchased a pre-measured kit and the accompanying instructions were written by the dumbest guy in the office. It reminded me of the scene in MASH when Henry was telling Hawkeye how to disarm an unexploded bomb.
"Cut the red wire leading to the detonator".
"But first, disarm the fuse."

Preheat the malt extract.
Man, that stuff is like resin. Luckily a friend of mine warned me that it was terrible to work with (think molasses that has sat out in the freezing cold over night). He recommended putting the cans in the oven on low until the stuff became more viscous.

Consider your workspace.
We have a stationary tub and a counter in our laundry room. I don't know how I would have done this in our kitchen where our sink is not large enough to accomodate a four gallon canning pot. Remodeling may be in order, mind you.

Work with the tools ahead of time.
Getting two gallons of wort into a fermenter and leaving all the trub behind is tricky business. I nearly had a catastrophe that would have been avoided had I filled the canner and tried it before hand. That would have revealed the difficulties.

Get a partner.
Working with 5 gallons of anything is cumbersome. It's nice to have an extra hand. What's more, this process takes a few hours and unless there's a good game on or you have something to read, it's pretty boring.

Drink really good beer while brewing.
I'm sure a lot of people would say this is a bad idea, but we found that it was the perfect stimulant. Sitting there with a pint of Guiness, thinking that I was making my own was pretty cool, even if mine tastes like a poor imitation.

Yachtzee
01-03-2006, 04:27 PM
Back in my grad student days, when I had time and was dating a beer lover, I used to homebrew all the time. I was particularly proud of my honey pilsner and my IPA, which were my own recipe (not from a kit). I also enjoyed the stout I brewed from a kit. All were excellent. I only wish I hadn't lost the recipes in one of my many moves.

My only recommendation...Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Nothing ruins a good batch of beer like a failure to properly sanitize the equipment. I always found that bleach is best and iodophor works well too.

SunDeck
01-03-2006, 07:20 PM
My only recommendation...Sanitize, sanitize, sanitize. Nothing ruins a good batch of beer like a failure to properly sanitize the equipment. I always found that bleach is best and iodophor works well too.


Thanks! Yeast is everywhere, I hear.

LoganBuck
01-03-2006, 10:47 PM
I have dabbled in Cheese making over the last few months. A similar endeavor from the sounds of it. I produced two pounds of extremely sharp white cheddar. It was only for the refined palate, and generally bitter tasting. I am in the process of planning my next round of cheesemaking and I anticipate a much better result. My wife hates me because she doesn't like the smell of air drying cheese in her kitchen.

SunDeck
01-04-2006, 09:11 PM
My wife hates me because she doesn't like the smell of air drying cheese in her kitchen.

Maybe I should try cheese, too. It would be a ready explanation for my wife,
"Oh no, that's the cheese, dear."

pedro
01-04-2006, 10:20 PM
One of my roomates in college made beer once. His name was Pat Ryder. We called it "Ryder Brau".

It was awful. I have a feeling the sanitation "thing" may have been a problem.

TeamSelig
01-06-2006, 07:49 AM
How much is a beer brewing kit? As a poor college student with beer as a #1 priority, would this be any cheaper?

Yachtzee
01-06-2006, 08:46 AM
How much is a beer brewing kit? As a poor college student with beer as a #1 priority, would this be any cheaper?

You can find them online. I think a good starter kit used to be around $35-50. The ingredients for a batch of beer (5 gallons) usually ran around $10-$15. It may well be cheaper, which may be the part of the reason why it was popular with us grad students. However, it involves some work, much more than just going down to the beer store for a case of Natty Light. If you're a fan of good beer, I recommend trying it out. You'll get the most out of it. Amber or dark ales are the easiest to start with and take the least amount of time. Hops can hide a lot of mistakes (except sanitization mistakes). But if you only like light American lagers, it's a lot of work (1 month of cold storage fermentation) and easy to mess up.

Kegging the beer is cheaper and easier to deal in the long run, but has a higher start-up cost than bottling. The best way to do it is to get a group of friends together to go in on the brewing/kegging/bottling equipment. Then you make brewing the beer into a social activity. That's how we started in grad school, and then it turned into full-out competition to see who could make the best beer (all in good fun, of course).

TeamSelig
01-06-2006, 09:04 AM
Can you buy those without being 21+? Doesn't make sense that you would be able to, I was just curious.

SunDeck
02-23-2006, 01:20 PM
Update on the brewing front- 24 liters of Irish Stout went down mighty well. We now have another 24 of English Pale Ale racked and aging.
Well on my way to my goal of dressing up like Chris Farley for Halloween.

ochre
02-23-2006, 01:46 PM
Update on the brewing front- 24 liters of Irish Stout went down mighty well. We now have another 24 of English Pale Ale racked and aging.
Well on my way to my goal of dressing up like Chris Farley for Halloween.
I <3 pale ale.

SunDeck
02-23-2006, 04:05 PM
I <3 pale ale.
If you're in Bloomington in four weeks, PM me!

ochre
02-23-2006, 06:49 PM
If you're in Bloomington in four weeks, PM me!

I'm not sure I <3 it that much...

:)

SunDeck
02-23-2006, 07:02 PM
That which does not kill you makes you stronger.

Yachtzee
02-23-2006, 07:54 PM
Update on the brewing front- 24 liters of Irish Stout went down mighty well. We now have another 24 of English Pale Ale racked and aging.
Well on my way to my goal of dressing up like Chris Farley for Halloween.

Sounds great SunDeck. English Pale Ales are fun to brew, especially if you can get your hands on some Burton Water Salts (or your water is just naturally hard). I'm jealous.

So how long until you plant your own hop vines in the back yard?

SunDeck
02-24-2006, 07:28 AM
Sounds great SunDeck. English Pale Ales are fun to brew, especially if you can get your hands on some Burton Water Salts (or your water is just naturally hard). I'm jealous.

So how long until you plant your own hop vines in the back yard?

If I had the space, it would be this year.
As for the water, we're in the limestone belt of south central Indiana, where the water runs through karst topography. It's hard all right.

Yachtzee
02-24-2006, 01:40 PM
If I had the space, it would be this year.
As for the water, we're in the limestone belt of south central Indiana, where the water runs through karst topography. It's hard all right.

Well then you should be able to get a more authentic taste to your Pale Ale with water straight from the tap. You could even do a little experiment. Make one batch of your Pale Ale recipe with your water and save a few bottles (if you're bottling). Then make the next batch with your Pale Ale recipe, but this time using bottled water and Burton Water Salts and compare the two. The Burton Water Salts would help the beer come out closer to Bass, the standard for English Pale Ales (depending on the recipe of course). The end result is that if you can taste the difference, it will help you identify the "local" character that your water imparts to your beer.