Skip to content

bieeeere!

I can make bread. I can make yoghurt. I can make cheese. I can button buttons and tie laces and count by twos and threes. The logical next step was learning how to make the greatest gift God bottled mankind: beer!

From Weebl and Bob!

From Weebl and Bob!

I researched the crap out of this. And it seems I’ve slipped on a banana peel and into a very slippery rabbit hole: one minute you’re thinking “I’ll give it a go, why not?” and the next minute you’re all “I’m going to start with an all-grain batch, hand-milled, of course, and then I’ll add the hops at -60, -20 and 0 minutes…” and then you start using words like “wort” and “sparge” (a verb) and the next thing you know nobody wants to invite you to their parties.

So I emailed an experienced and wise brewing friend with a request for tips, and received an enthusiastic offer of kit and teaching! A few days later, after withstanding a buffeting of emails from me with questions like “does this recipe make a beer? is it hard? why are there so many different things in it?” and “what the hell is a sparge anyway?”, my friend kindly ended his and my suffering by transporting a fermenter (big plastic pot with a lid and a wee tap on it, in which beer is made), a capper (lever-dealie for putting lids on bottles), various bottling paraphernalia and a few crates of bottles, merrily clinking. He then kindly navigated me through the ins and outs of beer-making, which means he was exposed to my unique learning style (i.e. vacillating between “SHUT UP I KNOW!” and “wait, what was that last bit?”) before leaving me to my own devices. He encouraged me to try a kit and kilo batch for my first brew, so off to the brew shop!

Pouring liquor to rinse the malt measuring jug.

Pouring liquor to rinse the malt measuring jug.

Beer is malt, water, yeast and hops. There’s a long and involved process by which the malt is turned into a flavoursome broth for the yeast to boogie with, and you can do some amazing specialisation in your beer flavours at this stage, by tweaking the different grains and things used to create it. I am all astonishment at the precision and passion that goes into brewing: the homebrew forums are thick with people keen and nerdy. You only have to check the Wikipedia pages on hops and see what I’m talking about. People get detailed about their brewing.

Glug glug glug: into the fermenter!

Glug glug glug: into the fermenter!

For anyone interested, my first brew is an American style pale ale: I set it up on Sunday, let it cool to the right temperature, and pitched the yeast. At my learned friend’s recommendation, I went with a yeast that will survive the cool overnight temps in the laundry (where I’ve said my big bubbling tub) and lo: there is bubbling. The airlock has been burping away with fermentation gas all week — now it’s beginning to slow down, which suggests the yeast have eaten all the sugars and turned them into alcohol. This week I’ll test it a bit more (I’ve got a fancy-arsed device that measures the gravity of the liquid, which is a reflection of the alcohol content) and see if we’re ready to bottle – a whole ‘nother adventure in itself.

I’ve gotta say…I’m already making plans about what I’m going to pour into the fermenter. Turns out you can pour your next batch on top of the yeast and off you go again! So…uh, rabbit hole. Yep. Honestly, I didn’t even know how much I liked beer until a friend asked what I wanted to make and I realised there were heaps I want to try recreating.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *