Category Archives: Pub Crawl Brooklyn Home Brewing

The first taste of our bottled beer

On a recent weeknight evening, my homebrewing buddy Scott and I got met up with our girlfriends and two mutual friends to taste our first bottled beer.  We had brewed this batch in late Spring, bottled it in July (using bottling sugar in an effort to improve upon our first attempt at carbonation) and were finally ready to taste!  There were two types, an IPA and a porter.  Working from light to dark, we started with the IPA.

Upon opening the first bottle, we heard the familiar “pssst” sound.  The beer sounded carbonated.  The pour provided a visual confirmation of the carbonation.  The look of the beer was almost that of a hefewiezen!  No, our IPA didn’t accidentally become a wheat beer.  This had more to do with the fact that our homebrew method does not have a complete filtration process that the larger brewers do.

Scott pouring the IPA into a tasting glass


The IPA, about to be tasted.

The nose indicated the hoppiness that one would expect with an IPA.  Putting the glass to our lips, we found that our IPA was more mild than the typical American IPA.  Perhaps we had more of an English style IPA on our hands; subtly hopped, but not overly done.  We asked our fellow tasters to be frank in their assessment and they suggested that the carbonation could be more pronounced.  I would also like the hops to be more present.

After the IPA was done, it was time to try the porter.  Similar to the IPA, the porter had the sound and sight of carbonation.  The color and the nose were both solid.  The mouth was toast and malty.  Unlike the IPA, I felt that this one was very well done.  I mean, I think I’ve ordered something similar tasting in bars and brewpubs!  Scott argued that if the porter were just a tad sweeter tasting, it would be perfect.

The Porter, about to be tasted.

So, after several months, Scott and I finally had something we could call bottled beer.  The brewing will continue in the fall and we are both looking forward to improving our IPA and porter experience and trying out new recipes.


Carbonation at last!  Well, at least when we serve the beer at Scott’s place.  Upon completion of brewing another batch of IPA the other night, we decided to taste a batch of beer from mid-May.  At the suggestion of a friend of Scott’s, we tried carbonating the liquid using Scott’s seltzer machine (readers will recall our findings from the prior tasting).  We filled up the machine-specific bottle (typically reserved for water), placed it in the machine, ran the carbonating process a couple of times and, finally, we had honest-to-goodness, carbonated beer.

Carbonated homebrew!

Longer term, we will still need to figure out the how-to-carbonate issue because Scott and I would like to serve the homebrew beyond the comfort of Scott’s place.  We will attempt to bottle the beer and place bottling sugar in each beer bottle.  Then, allow the full beer bottles sit for few weeks so that they can carbonate properly.  Hopefully, that will fix the issue for good.

Straining the recently-brewed wort into the aging vessel

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you have any other suggestions for carbonating homebrews?  I look forward to hearing from you!’s foray into Home brewing (part 3) – Tasting


Ah, the sound I’ve been waiting on for over two weeks.  Scott and I opened the 1 gallon jug to taste our first homebrew!  We had made about ¾ of a gallon of Brown Ale (shown below).  Because it was a homebrew, the aging yeast had settled to the bottom of the jug, so we had to be cognizant of that when pouring the beer into pint glasses.  Along with our girlfriends, Scott and I embarked on our tasting.

The look, the smell and the taste

During the pour, the first thing we noticed was that there was hardly any foam forming at the top of the pint glass.  Clearly, our beer did not possess the same level of carbonation that a commercially-brewed beer would.  The color exhibited a somewhat cloudy (because it was unfiltered), dark sepia or russet shade of brown.  The nose was solid.  We could definitely smell the dark malts.  We put the glass to our lips and let the beer roll from the front part of our tongues to the back.  Malty, with very little hop flavor.  Unfortunately, as we noticed during the pour, the beer was significantly flatter than we would have liked.  We also had a problem keeping the yeast out of the pour.  During subsequent sips, partially due to the yeast, the beer had slight undertones of a Belgian brown, perhaps along the lines of a Leffe Brun.  During the second pour, we attempted using a cheese cloth to filter out the yeast, but we were not very successful.

Going forward

Despite the two small setbacks, Scott and I were very happy with this first attempt.  To fix the carbonation issue, we plan to age our other beers at least one week longer than we did the Brown Ale.  In addition, we plan to find a better way to filter out the yeast when we pour into serving glasses. All in all, it was a great start!

I’d like to hear from you.  Do you have any ideas on how to fix the lack of carbonation and filtering out the yeast?  Please share your thoughts on that or any other comments you have.’s foray into Home brewing (part 2)

I am happy to report that since our first attempt at brewing beer, my friend Scott and I have had two more Sunday afternoons brewing beer.  During these subsequent tries, we have made a Porter and an India Pale Ale (IPA).  However, because aging takes at least two weeks with these ales, we have not been able to taste any of our beers yet.

Until this week.

Because our first batch (the Brown Ale) was brewed on May 8, Scott and I will be hosting a small tasting party for it later this week.  I am so excited about this.  I have all these questions I can’t wait to get answered.

What is our concoction going to taste like?  What does the beer smell like?  Did the liquid properly ferment?  Did all the yeast go to the bottom of the container?  Did air get into the aging vessel?  Did natural light have any adverse impact on the fermenting liquid?  Were there any effects from possible improper sanitization of equipment?  In the end, did Scott and I successfully make beer?

I will have all these questions answered very soon.  Check back on Friday morning for a detailed description of the tasting.’s foray into Home brewing (part 1)

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 (, 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.