Let’s Talk About Beer

ChristyUncategorized1 Comment

Yes, beer. I am a woman who loves beer, and I’m not talking about the mass-marketed crap sold by skinny chicks in bikinis.

I love beer so much I brew my own. In fact, I used to blog about beer. I gave it up for a few reasons, not least of which being that in order to write about beer every day, you have to drink beer every day. I love beer, but I’m not an alcoholic.

So I decided that since brewing is one of my hobbies, and this blog is about my hobbies, that I’m going to occasionally blog about brewing here. I hope you don’t mind. I’m leaving the old blog up because it has some specific information about my first few batches that I don’t want to lose, but I also don’t want to import all of that content over to here.

Irish Stout: brewed in April, bottled in May

Anyway, brewing. The old blog has a lot of information about starting out, so if you’re thinking about getting into this particular hobby you may want to read through some of my archives. Other resources I find helpful are Mike’s Brew Review and How to Brew for brewing instructions, and Lost in The Beer Aisle and Drink with the Wench for general beer awesomeness.

I will tell you that contrary to popular belief, brewing beer is really no harder than cooking dinner. In fact, it’s barely harder than boiling water. It just takes a long time. At the moment, I’m strictly an extract brewer, but I do have aspirations to expand into all grain. (What this means is that I brew using a store-bought syrup or powder of barley extract, rather than crushing and boiling the grain and collecting the wort myself.)

Last night I started up a Double IPA that I got from Northern Brewer. IPAs, or India Pale Ales, are characterized by strong hop aroma or flavor. The Double IPA is an American twist that’s even hoppier. Since hops are what gives beer it’s bitter flavors, a “successful” Double IPA will essentially burn your taste buds.

Wheat Beer, brewed and bottled over the summer/.

This was definitely the most complicated beer I’ve attempted so far.  In basic brewing, you boil a big pot (2.5-3 gallons) of water, steep the grains, pour in the malt syrup (or powder) (this mixture is called the wort), and then add hops 1 or two times over the course of an hour. This recipe called for a separate “hop tea” to be boiled in conjunction with the wort. So I had my 2.5 gallon pot of water and malt syrup boiling alongside a 2.5 quart pot of hops. Not so bad, but over the course of an hour long boil, 2.5 quarts of water plus hops basically turns into sludge. This happened despite the fact that I kept a lid on the pot for the whole boil. I ended up transferring a lot of the sludge when I combined the two, just to make sure some of the hop liquid made it to the party.

I always have bad luck with yeast. In this case, I was sure I had a smack pack of liquid yeast in the fridge. When I went to get it, I realized all I had was a small envelope of dry yeast. Usually, brewers suggest that dry yeast only be used when you’re making a starter, but starters are typically made 2-3 days before brew day. So, I held my breath and pitched the dry yeast straight into the batch. Fermentation is already going strong, so I’m hoping we’ll be okay. This batch has to condition for 2-3 months, so we won’t know until next year.

The original gravity (first measurement used to determine alcohol content) was 1.092, which is much higher than the 1.082 expected from the recipe. I have trouble with my beers ending up being low on alcohol and low on carbonation, so we’ll see if this one continues the trend.

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