For years, numerous friends and acquaintances of mine urged me to try home brewing. I’ve been a craft beer drinker (and a NYC pub crawler) for a long time, but have never tried home brewing. Until, that is, Sunday, May 8, 2011. Scott (a good friend of mine and fellow craft beer fan) and I started the day at Whole Foods in Lower Manhattan and bought the necessary appliances and ingredients for a one gallon batch of brown ale.
We returned to his apartment and, using the instructions at Brooklyn Brew shop’s website (http://brooklynbrewshop.com/instructions), we began. Not to get too technical, but there are six main steps at brewing beer. I’ll describe each step in two or three sentences.
1) “Making oatmeal” – this step involves warming the barley malt in hot water to release the sugars of the malt (the barley malt tastes like the cereal grape nuts). After one hour, we obtained an oatmeal-like substance.
2) “Brewing coffee” – After filling a strainer with the oatmeal-like substance and placing the full strainer on top of a large pot, we slowly poured near boiling water over the oatmeal-like substance. The water filters through the oatmeal-like substance and grabs the sugars of the barley malt and fills the pot below with a dark brown liquid called “wort” (pronounced “wert”).
3) “The Boil” – We added hops (often referred to as the “flower” of the beer; i.e., what gives the beer its aroma) and then boil the wort for about one hour. The wort is sweet-tasting, but is not yet beer. In order to become beer, the wort must have yeast added and then must age for at least two weeks.
4) Cooling – After the one-hour boil is complete, the wort must be cooled down to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Once cooled, we poured the wort into a gallon jug. By this point in the process, Scott’s kitchen was smelling like a brewery!
5) Yeasting – The fourth (and arguably most important) ingredient, the yeast is added to the jug after the cooling is complete. It is very important that the wort has cooled sufficiently, or else, if the wort is still too hot, the yeast will die and there will be no beer:-(.
6) Aging – After sufficiently shaking the gallon of wort with the added yeast, we set the full jug aside in a dark place that is slightly cooler than room temperature. It will be at least two weeks before we can taste the fruits of our labor.
My thoughts after this first attempt: I can’t imagine doing this alone. There was too much mixing, temperature checking, poring and straining for one person, and we were only making a one gallon batch! From start to finish, the process took about 3.5 hours. If you’ve ever thought about home brewing, but haven’t tried it yet, find a friend (or two) to partner with and give it a shot. Today was a lot of fun. I can’t wait until our next attempt! Check back later this month for the results of this first attempt.
What do you think? Did this sound like your homebrew experience? Please share your comments. I look forward to hearing from you.