Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Is It Beer Yet?

This weekend we ventured into a new territory for us, home brewing. With all the great local microbrews here we really debated whether or not we wanted to try making our own beer. But I think the more Matt read the more he wanted to try his own hand at it. So, for Christmas I gave him a gift certificate to Midwest Supplies to get all the supplies he needed to get started.
Is It Beer Yet?
We're really lucky to have a place like Midwest Supplies close by. The place is huge & has everything we need from equipment, books, kits, whole grains & advice. My parents gave Matt a kit with all the grains, hops, malt & yeast to make Flat Tire Ale which seemed like a good starter beer.
Is It Beer Yet? Is It Beer Yet?
The grains, in the case barley, get put into a mesh bag & simmered at 155 F in 3 gallons of water for about 30 minutes. Already you can see the color of beer starting to come through.
Is It Beer Yet? Is It Beer Yet?
The grain seeps for another 10 minutes off the heat & then is removed. It can be composed or left out for the birds like we did. Matt thinks it would make a great addition to bread, has anyone ever tried this?
Is It Beer Yet? Is It Beer Yet?
Then the malt extract is added, it looked & tasted just like caramel. The water is then brought to a boil & the bittering hops are added. Whoa what a smell!
Is It Beer Yet?
Brewing doesn't seem to be a lot of work but there is a lot of time spent watching a pot making sure it keeps its heat or doesn't boil over. The wort boils for an hour & aroma hops are added the last two minutes. These hops really smelled like the Fat Tire beer we were attempting to get the flavor of.
Is It Beer Yet? Is It Beer Yet?
The wort then needs to be cooled as quickly as possible. We tried putting it in a snow bank but it melted the snow around it so fast (plus it was slippery out & Matt was afraid of spilling). A bathtub fill of cold water plus the addition of an addition gallon of cold water to the pot brought our wort down to 80 F in about 20 minutes. Matt then took a sample & tested its starting gravity. We'll test the gravity again before bottling to see what the alcohol level is.
Is It Beer Yet? Is It Beer Yet?
Is It Beer Yet? Is It Beer Yet?
Finally, the wort gets poured into the fermenting bucket. Matt whisked it briskly to add oxygen that the yeast will need. We used a dry yeast which just get sprinkled over the top of the wort. The top of the fermenter goes on & the airlock goes in place.

By the next morning our airlock was bubbling away letting us know the yeast was alive & doing it's thing. It'll work it's magic for a week & then it'll be time for the second fermentation, stay tuned...

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://agoodappetite.blogspot.com OR at http://agoodappetite.com then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at katbaro AT yahoo DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author unless otherwise noted. © 2007-2011 Kathy Lewinski


Brian Samuels Photography said...

Mmmmmmm... home brew!!!! Love this!


this is a GREAT post!! so. much. fun!!!

Kris said...

Oh, no, you may have just created a monster! Kidding, but a lot of obsessed homebrewers got started out just like that.
As a wife who did the same thing, and is now co-owner of a fair amount of homebrewing equipment, I might suggest the next purchase to be a wort chiller. It's coiled copper that hooks onto the sink for super fast, super easy chilling (we've done the snow route before).

Elle said...

Oh, how great is this?! Our good friends home brew, and the results are amazing! Can't wait to see how your brew turns out!

Foodwanderings said...

Gr8 post! Had a New Year's part w/ales but not homemade.

kat said...

Kris - Yes, a wort chiller is on the list but we figured we'd see if we liked home brewing first.

Megan said...

Oh how fun! My girlfriend has started brewing her own beer and she just asked me if I wanted to start a batch of ice wine with her.
Ahhh, yea!

RJ Flamingo said...

We did this once, many years ago, when someone gave Mike a kit for Christmas. The beer was great, but we didn't have the space in our teensy place to keep it up. It was a lot of fun, though, especially passing around some of our home brew to our friends! Looking forward to your progress reports!

Anonymous said...

Yes, you can use the spent grains for other things. The dogs love the dog treats our local brewery makes. Just google spent grain bread...dog treats, etc and you'll find info on the home brew forums. One of our favorite brewery/pizza places uses the spent grains for their pizza crust. Don't let that good stuff go to waste! Have fun homebrewing.

vanillasugarblog said...

well glad you're doing this and not me. a lot of steps; i wonder if i would have the patience LOL

HungryinSW said...

Looks like quite the project!

Chelsea said...

I got my hubby the cheaper of the two wort chillers they carry at Midwest and if does a great job. Also, if you want to make bottling as painless as possible, get the grolsh or EZ-cap style bottles.

Meg Luby said...

that is SO COOL! holy cow!

also, love the title. ha. i "lol'd" when i read it.

glad i stumbled across this! i will have to post my results if i try this myself!


Jenn @leftoverqueen said...

This is so cool! I can't wait to hear what happens next! :)

TS of eatingclub vancouver said...

The waiting! This is quite the test of patience, hehehehe....

grace said...

a watched beer never ferments, or so i hear. :)
this is what i call a fun (and hopefully rewarding) experience!

Lori said...

Wow that is quite a serious undertaking. Very interesting process.

Tangled Noodle said...

We visited the Schell's Brewery in New Ulm and saw the giant vats (as well as having a great tasting at the end) but we didn't actually see the process of beer-making as you've show here! Looking forward to reading about the results...8-)

(Sorry for being so absent - still having probs w/my ISP that for some reason prevents me from accessing your site, but as you can see, I found a [convoluted] way around it finally!]

Natasha @ Saved by the Egg Timer said...

Hi! Love the photos, I have been fermenting traditional soda so this all is looking familiar. I want to start wine too :)

Happy New Year!

the wandering fork said...

I've heard about using the mash for bread, but there's definitely a technique you want to follow. Usually it's in a small amount as well. I believe there's some info online about doing it, so I'm sure there are recipes. I am sure it depends what kind of beer you were making too. Great job!

Lori said...

I'll have to share this with my husband as home brewing is on his to do list at some point. Now that we have a guest bath and some place to store it I'm giving in to the idea. :)

He's getting a second masters in brewing and distilling through his work. I'll have to ask him what he thinks about the bread.

Jess said...

Hooray for homebrewing! We're approaching the 10th anniversary of our first batch and it's been a lot of fun. And very delicious.

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