Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Homebrew love

Nate and I love beer.  It's much more than a "oh man I want to drink to get smashed" kind of thing.  We enjoy it for the flavor, we enjoy trying different kinds, we like pairing it with food.  It's truly something that is just interesting and fun to us!  About six years ago Nate was lucky enough to inherit some homebrewing equipment from his now late grandfather and it was during a time he was out of work and needing something to do, so he took up homebrewing his own beer and it just evolved and grew over time.  We now have a bar with seven taps in our basement and have fun coming up with fun and delicious brews to fill it up with.  For fun, I thought I'd kind of walk you through the homebrew process in case you were curious!

We do two types of brewing - extract and all grain.  The best way I can think of to describe the difference is this.  Extract brewing is like making a cake from a cake mix.  Some of the ingredients are already put together for you but you add a few of your own to make an awesome creation.  All grain brewing is like baking a cake completely from scratch.  All grain is definitely my favorite - it's hard to tell the difference between Nate's all grain beer and the stuff you can buy in the store.  Extract brew still turns out and tastes delicious, but you can tell it's not quite the same as the all grain.  We mostly do all grain now, but it is a ton more work so this past weekend we did an extract brew.  Nate was mostly looking to get a batch done quickly so we can have a full stocked bar ready to go for our Oktoberfest party in late October.  Extract brew is a great place for a new brewer to start out - you buy a pre-made kit and all the instructions are right there for you (even this spaz can do an extract brew!)

 1. Giant pot  2. Adding the grains 3. Adding the malt

We use a giant pot that used to be part of Nate's dad's turkey fryer.  The process of brewing is almost like making a giant pot of tea - you get your water boiled to a certain temperature, then you steep your grains much like you would a tea bag.  The rest of the items that really make beer be well, beer, are not added until almost the very end.  It is usually about an hour or so to steep the grains.  Then you add in things like hops, malt and anything you want to use to flavor your beer.  This particular batch is a raspberry porter, so we are going to be adding in some fresh raspberries after the beer starts fermenting a bit.

1. Ollie "supervising"  2. Nate enjoying a cold one while waiting
3. My beer on the table  4. Cooling the wort

We do the brewing outside when we can for a couple of reasons - it's easy to use the propane from our grill and then we use something Nate made called a "wort chiller" to cool the "wort" (wort = boiled grains and ingredients) that attaches to our garden hose.  The goal is to get the wort cooled down very quickly and this copper contraption that he built takes in water and gets nice and cold very fast.  We used to stick the pot in a bathtub full of ice water and it could take 45 minutes or more to cool it down.  Now we can do it in six minutes or under.

Of course while we're brewing we have to drink a beer.  We also have a very cute supervisor now too.  I imagine he will get a kick out of helping his daddy eventually!  We'll be the cool parents (judge all you want) who will even let him have a sip when he's older.  

The beer will need to sit in fermentation (we use our basement bathroom, nice dark cool spot) for anywhere from three to six weeks depending on the type of beer.  Then it's kegged and thrown into our bar!  It needs a few days to get some carbonation going and then it's good to drink.  Below is a picture of our bar.

Our bar!  We actually have a seventh tap in the middle now - a "stout" faucet

We used to bottle the beer which was nice to be able to share with friends - but was a TON more work if you can believe that.  We recently figured out a way we can still share beer with friends.  Nate brewed a special anniversary brew for some friends of ours and bought something cool called a "jockey box" which is basically a cooler that was fixed up to be a little mini keg system.  It's fun to now have a way to share beer with people again!  The only downside is we have yet to figure out how to clean it...and one huge thing about anything with homebrew - everything must be sanitized and cleaned really well.  If it isn't it can actually cause your beer to get infected which can mess with the flavor and end result of your beer.  It won't necessarily make you sick if you drink it, but it won't be good!

Jockey box that can hold up to two taps if we want!

So, there you have it, my really brief sort of idiots guide to homebrewing.  Nate was attempting a homebrew blog for awhile and it kind of fell by the wayside.  He absolutely loves talking about homebrew and helping others though, so if you have questions, let me know and I'll pass them along to him!
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  1. I love your homebrew!! Can't wait to have some!

  2. I miss beer so much, especially the dark ones - your raspberry porter sounds amazing! No more for me since I broke out in head-to-toe hives, though!

  3. I'll be waiting for my invite to the tasting!!

  4. It's a good thing you have such a cute supervisor!!!

  5. How interesting!! I loved learning about the process even though I dont like beer (by the way, my mum was the cool mum and I still don't like beer!!!! Terrible, isn't it!!) X

  6. This is so cool! My husband always wanted to try home brewing. I will have to share this!

  7. I love the beer Nate brewed for us! Can't wait to get some more!! <3


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