Homebrewing, part 1: Making the beer

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Homebrewing is cost effective and makes for one interesting afternoon.

My friend Tamre, who embarks on many culinary journeys with me, gifted John and I this beer making kit back when we were in an apartment. The complaint was that apartment living left no room to brew beer that needs to sit in a cool, dark place for a month, so Tamre picked up this kit from Brooklyn BrewShop and told us to give it a shot.

We didn’t pick it up again until we got in the new house. Part of this is from our time constraints – I wanted it to be a project for John and I to make together but we only have one day of the week where neither of us work and we just didn’t get around to it.

With the 4th of July mid-week holiday, I took the rest of the week off work and asked John to take off Thursday so we could hang out and do something together during my staycation. And so we decided – let’s brew beer!

The one gallon homebrewing kit includes…

Brooklyn Brewshop Everyday IPA Beer Kit

Brooklyn Brewshop Everyday IPA Beer Kit

• 1 Gallon Fermentation Jug
• Screw Cap Stopper
• Airlock
• Racking Cane
• Tubing
• Tube Clamp
• Lab Thermometer
• Sanitizer Packet
• Ingredient Mix (grain, yeast, and hops)

NOT INCLUDED:

• 6 quart Stock Pot (a second pot is handy) **handy must have meant crucial
• 10 Empty Non-Twistoff Bottles
(Swingtops such as Grolsch work great
if you do not have the Capper)  **also not needed until the bottling process two weeks from now
• Fine Mesh Strainer **that fits your large stock pots
• Funnel for the gallon jug

This kit is for brewing an India Pale Ale, a nice hoppy beer with a bite. These are the beers John and I prefer to drink, but Brooklyn BrewShop also makes kits for wheats, ales and stouts. You can find the ingredients sold at Great Fermentations in Indianapolis or online.

Please don’t read this blog and attempt to make beer off of my directions! Brewing beer involves many steps and each kit comes with detailed instructions (and a funky video that shows you the whole process). These photos just outline the process you don’t see in the instructions, such as YOUR KITCHEN WILL GET REALLY REALLY HOT from this so you might not want to do it on a 100 degree day. Oh well.

Photo of the grain

Photo of the grain

You need GIANT POTS for this, preferably a canner or at least a 10 and 15 gallon stock pot. And you must, must, must sanitize EVERYTHING, including the stock pots. This is essential in brewing beer. However, I would not be surprised to find a dog hair or two in this beer. Just saying.

One of the first steps (after sanitization) was to cook the grain for 60 minutes at a temperature between 144-150 degrees. This is where your handy-dandy thermometer comes into play. I kind of thought we could cook the grain and go sit on the couch and watch TV for an hour but you really need to watch the temperature constantly.

This is also when your house starts to smell like a brewery, and it’s AWESOME.

Cooking the grain

Cooking the grain

It was hot, sticky and smelly in the little blue kitchen, so naturally Dollar wanted to hang out with us.

Dollar, chillin

Dollar, chillin

The grain takes on a consistency of oat meal. Mmmm, grainy oatmeal.

Grain taking on the look of oatmeal

Grain taking on the look of oatmeal

After the grain has cooked, you strain out the grain which leaves you with a brown liquid called wort. This part took a long time since we didn’t have a strainer that fit any of our pots, so we had to strain it in batches.

Straining the grain

Straining the grain

After all of the grain is strained and all you have is the wort, put the pot back on the stove and bring to a boil. Because of our small strainer and the large pots, we were switching back and forth between the blue canner and the stock pot.

Boiling the wort

Boiling the wort

For every 15 minutes over the course of one hour you will drop in the hops in batches, just a little each time. The hops look like rabbit food, but smell better!

Hops hops hops

Hops hops hops

After the hops have boiled, the wort is left to cool in an ice bath (or the refrigerator) until it is 70 degrees. Then you strain and funnel it into the gallon jug, shake it, and finish assembling the screw top with the tube that goes from the top of the jug to a small bowl or water mixed with sanitizer. Because of the need for both of us to do a lot of steps, I didn’t get many pictures of this process, sorry. After all of this you put your beer in a cool, dark place – like a basement, preferably on a table and out of the way of the dogs.

Beer in the basement

Beer in the basement

 

We have already added the airlock (assembled two-three days after brewing). In two weeks we will bottle it, and after two more weeks we will be enjoying it. We haven’t discussed much of the bottling process but we have some time to figure out what to do. If this first homebrewing experiment goes well we may plan on brewing more beer of different styles as long as we can find the time. Taking a day off from work isn’t preferred but occasionally we all need a little break from reality with a pint or two.

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  • http://www.FathersOverForty.com/ Wade Wingler

    Great post! Approximately what does an average kit cost?

    • solidgoldeats

      Good question – $50.00 for the one gallon kit. You can also purchase 5 gallon kits, something I may do if the recipe holds up.

    • http://twitter.com/mulljon Jonathon Mullens

      Kits vary. Tuxedo Park (Found in Fountain Square) has a brew cube that is similar to the one used here. They also have 5 gallon kits as well. I would say anywhere from $80 – $2,000 depending on what you want to start with.

  • http://twitter.com/mulljon Jonathon Mullens

    Glad to see you tried your hand at brewing. I hope you enjoyed it. Only one thing I can complain about on this post: “And you must, must, must sanitize EVERYTHING, including the stock pots” you don’t really need to sanitize the stock pots but it is good to be over cautious first time around. Everything the beer touches after the boil needs to be sanitized. The boil will kill off anything bad that can get into the beer and the mash will not be harmed in anyway either unless you are using plastic. As long as you get your wort temp. down under 100 quickly enough your are usually okay. If you keep your stock pots clean you are good to go. Other than that I enjoyed reading this post especially “6 quart Stock Pot (a second pot is handy) **handy must have meant crucial” because I learned that the hard way the first time I brewed and I started with a 5 gal. batch. Try putting all that into a 4 qt. stock pot.

    • solidgoldeats

      Yeah the sanitizing got annoying but I get what you mean. I was lucky to get two big canning pots for $20 from a friend who was cleaning out her kitchen. It’s what’s allowed me to do many of my recent projects!