15 September 2007

The Inaugural Homebrewing Session

Yesterday morning I launched into my first attempt at homebrewing (soundtrack: Homestar Runner's wimpy "yayy.." from the 2003 Halloween toon). Here's a quick recap:


Collected bottles, both new (from Dad's new gig) and recycled (always a very enjoyable part of the process!), dug out all of my old wine-making supplies and took stock of what I had (and how dirty it was), and so forth.

Thursday afternoon:

Drove up to Asheville Brewers Supply (their website needs to be updated!) and purchased one of their house kits, the "Green Zinger" (not the greatest name, in my opinion...).
3.3 lbs Briess Pilsen Light malt extract
3 lbs Briess Northwestern Gold dry malt extract
4 oz Czech Saaz hops
1 oz Mt. Hood hops (aroma hops)
White Labs liquid California ale yeast

All malt, no grain! I guess that's why they promote this one as a "starter" kit.

After reading a bit about Briess (after the fact), I'm a little impressed with the company: they're the only vertically integrated malt company in the country (all of the malt they mill and produce is from their own barley), they're non-GMO, kosher, and they've had an organic licensing certification since 1990. Not too shabby. We'll see how it turns out.

De-labeled my recycled bottles (submerge them in hot water for a few minutes, and the labels come right off!), and then loaded them up in the dishwasher.

Thought about cleaning and sanitizing all the other equipment, and started a little bit of that. Got tired and went to bed.


My best-laid plans to get up at 7:30 am and get cracking didn't quite materialize, and I had a luxurious morning of sleeping in ("sleeping in luxuriously" for Mark-the-now-30-year-old means getting up at 8:30 or 8:45).

9:15am. Boxed up the washed bottles. Loaded the other brewing equipment (bucket lid, siphon, hoses, thief, measuring cup, long spoon, bottler, etc) into the dishwasher.

Got hungry and ate a nice breakfast, with a nod to the Irish: scrambled eggs with bacon (free-range organic, of course!), fried potato slices, and 2 slices of fresh tomato.
Was inspired by my yummy meal on the porch and loaded up my brew-making tunes on the LP for the day:
The Chieftains 4
The Chieftains 1
Sean Kane: Gusty's Frolicks
followed by 2 more on the CD player:
The Chieftains Collection: The Very Best of the Claddagh Years, Vol.1
My own mix CD, "Fiddle, Vol.2"

I've decided that Traditional Celtic Folk music is excellent brewing music.

Cleaned carboy in the shower (it's just too damn big for anywhere else, plus it was raining buckets outside). Sanitized everything.

Started the boil!

Added the malt. I've got large pot issues (no, get your mind out of the gutter). Our stock pot is 2 gallons right under the brim, so I was hoping it would work for the wort. It didn't. So I called in the very large water-bath boil canner, and had to messily transfer it over into the canner. I think, until I can buy a nice big boil pot, I'll just borrow one from the church (another one of my job perks!).

Added the first ounce of bittering hops. Added another ounce again at 10-minute intervals:

Added Mt. Hood (aroma) hops and took off heat. Let the wort sit for a few minutes to steep and cool.

Added to the fermenter. Physics mysteriously failed me and I couldn't get the siphon to work properly, so this set me back a few minutes and I had a slightly messy time getting the wort into the carboy fermenter by funnel and measuring cup. The wort was well-aerated, to be sure!
Placed the carboy in a roasting pan with ice cubes to cool.

Pitched the yeast. Stirred with the spoon handle, topped with the airlock, and covered the carboy with a towel to keep dark.

I was slightly worried later that night that I hadn't stirred the mix up sufficiently after pitching the yeast (remembering from my wine-making days that I'd sometimes stir after adding the (dry) yeast for a good half-hour. However, a trip into the brewing room (our 1/2 bathroom downstairs!) this morning laid those fears to rest -- the brew is wonderfully bubbling with happy yeast.

Bottling to follow in 5-10 days!

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