Monday, January 14, 2013

5. Brew my own beer - Beginnings

Going to college up in the Cascadia region (Go geoduck go!) its not surprising that many of my friends make their own beer. As with many other places around the country, craft been has been slowing increasing in popularity all over the last 15 years, both in consumption and distribution, as well as a hobby. However, in the Northwest we are lucky enough to have so many of the hops that have helped bring the craft to life named for familiar part and places (Willamette, Chinook, Cascade, Columbus, etc). I don't know if its more inspiring or anything, but its kinda cool to pick up a bag of Willamette hips and go "I know where that is!!". So after many years on the sidelines, being no more than a craft beer groupie, I decided to throw myself in this this lot. Thats right...  I decided to start making homebrew! 

Fortunately for me, Santa (aka my mom) bought me a whole bucket of brewing supplies and books for Christmas. (Aww look how happy I am!) Not long after new years, I rounded up all the supplies and began making my first beer. I call it "Fur Stout".... get it... ?

Mel = Hella chuffed!
While talking to my friends in Britain about brewing they all recommended, starting out with full extract brews. I just assumed that I've never seen it before because I'm a brew n00b and like some dog meme I saw once, I have no idea what I'm going. However when purchasing my supplies, the "starter kit" I asked for was all grain. I cook... enough. I can read instructions. I've been around people brewing before. I watched and occasionally stirred things. I think I can do this right? Sure. Why not?


I studied as a chemist. One thing you are taught the first week of every class: read through ALL the instructions before you start the lab! Why I didn't apply this lesson to beer making I have no idea. Also, why I decided to start this at 9:00, I also have no idea. Either way my frist brew, while ultimately successful, also contained more than few lapses in common sense. 

1) Not putting enough water for the wort, therefore the mesh bag won't fit all the way into the pot. 
2) Deciding this means you should dump the grain directly into the pot rather than just putting more water in. 
3) Not having a big enough strainer
4) Putting the sanitizer in the bucket so it can't be used to measure water...
5) Not thinking to just dump the sanitizer OUT of the bucket so you can use it. Its only.. like what? $0.30 of sanitizer. 

As I said it all turned out fine. Oy vey! There was a little extra grain in the boil, and yeah it bubbled out the airlock in the fermenter after a few days. All good lessons learned. In the end, if I can get drunk and not get sick I can't really complain. I got the stout because its generally forgiving. I start bottling next week. Hopefully that goes off well. Advice anyone?


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