Multiple times a month I get requests to blog about my beer which I’ve been making for the past two years now. It all started when my mom had no idea what to get me for Christmas. I told her it was no big deal and that I didn’t want a present but if she felt so inclined that whatever it was would be fine. I don’t know how she did it, I still need to ask her how she ever thought of the idea, but it knocked my socks off! When I opened the gift I realized quickly that I would begin making my own beer, what a concept!
Upon going home that evening I couldn’t get the idea of making beer out of my head; the idea of making beer has actually been on my mind almost every day since. I opened the boxes (by opened I mean ripped the boxes apart like a madman). I sanitized the equipment. I read the instructions (a dozen or so times). Then I started with my first canned LME (Liquid Malt Extract) kit. The smell was a bit off-putting at first and I didn’t know if I’d like brewing beer but the substance inside the cans was sweet and promising; the packaging was well thought out and printed very nicely so it must be a well-to-do company with much repeat business so I set aside reservation and placed the contents of the cans in the pot to boil.
Ah, my first time. I remember it so well! What a sticky mess…it was terrible to clean.
The hotbreak turned into boil over which produced a scorched malt extract smell that wafted through the house like an army of barbaric marauders, screaming and yelling in my nose. I opened the doors and windows but not for long as it was about 1:00 AM December 25th or so. I continued to brew with much fear for the remainder of the night/morning.
The extract burned on the bottom of the pot, inside and out, and I didn’t know how bad the city’s water supply would be for making beer but I soon found out; it was terrible. A stuck fermentation really threw me over the edge. I was done. Forget it. Pitch it down the drain. I hate the frustration. No wonder people choose to buy beer rather than make their own. Wow, what have I done with the last 6 hours of my life? Why would I allow myself to become the least bit excited about something I know completely nothing about anyway?
I let the Scottish Heavy sit on the yeast cake a good week before I realized the fundamentals about yeast temperature. I made a few calls, looked up some internet forums and got back to work on the beer; I didn’t want my mom to be disappointed by giving up, especially since she bought this beer kit as a present for Christmas!
Two weeks after brewing I bottled the concoction and let it sit in the bottles about 3 weeks. The first time I opened a bottle I was amazed that the familiar sound of carbonation was present! I smiled. Maybe this wasn’t a complete loss after all, I thought to myself. I poured my first beer in my favorite glass and watched as the foam slowly started to build. It started to resemble beer! And it was about time too! I was pretty anxious to taste this beer so I took a quick smell. Seemed ok. I was nervous though, too. What if I did something wrong and it’s now poisonous? Oh crud…what am I doing? …down the hatch.
Hmmm, I wasn’t dying but it wasn’t making me happy either. I took a second swig. It didn’t seem right. Well, I could go into more about it but I’ll save that for another time 😉
From that point on I’ve brewed all grain recipes exclusively. I’ve written my own recipes with the help of formulas and calculations found on the internet and in homebrewing books and after that first batch I’ve only ever brewed my own all grain recipes. Using the 2008 BJCP beer guidelines I was able to learn about the different styles of beer which also told me the various stats and defining natures of every beer style including alcohol, SRM (measurement of color), IBU (measurement of bitterness) and all sorts of stuff related to the beer. I make my own beer, from recipes I’ve written. Sweet! I now have lots of friends who help me finish my beer and it makes me very happy to be a homebrewer.
I will be posting a DIY instructional series (with pictures) on brewing your first batch successfully and very cheap. I also hope to be able to write a PDF download for those who would rather take the instructional to the kitchen to read while successfully brewing your first batch of beer!