Sunday, November 09, 2008

Relax, Don't Worry, Have a Homebrew

This is the mantra of Charlie Papazian, author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing.

Today DH and I finally bottled the beer we made 11 months ago. Yes, we are homebrewers - not very frequent homebrewers, but homebrewers nonetheless.

It all started about 16 years ago when I saw an ad in a catalog for a beer-brewing kit. It was nearly Christmas, and when I saw the ad, I realized this was a perfect Christmas present for DH. So I ordered it and sure enough, he loved the idea. I had ordered the kit to make stout, so that was the first beer we made. It turned out well, but needed a lot of aging. I think we still have a couple of bottles of it. They may be ready by now.

We gradually studied up on the craft (incuding buying Charlie's book), learned various tips and techniques, and refined our methods.

Beer brewing involves a number of steps (see here for the basics). The first steps of boiling and fermenting are fun. They involve sterilizing the equipment, boiling the "wort" as they call it, throwing it into a large container, called a carboy (don't ask me why because I don't know), mixing in the yeast, and then letting it ferment.

We learned after the first couple of batches that it turns out better if you transfer the first batch into a second empty carboy and leave the first bunch of yeast that is produced behind. Then the second fermentation can take place over a longer period. In fact, as long as you keep it protected and sanitary, you can leave the beer in there for a long time. A very long time.

And that's what you do. Because bottling it is the worst part. It is the ultimate test of a marriage to bottle beer together. It involves siphoning, filling bottles, putting caps on them by hand with a hand-held cap put-er-on-er, rinsing the bottles off and then putting them away in the basement to age.

The siphoning involves a lot of "Watch out, it's full!" and "Jeez, it's spilling all over the floor!" "Dammit, I told you to STOP! Now look what you've done!" and other less printable comments.

At any rate, we finally procrastinated so long that it was almost a year since our last batch was brewed - a nice India Pale Ale - and we realized now was the time. For one thing, we had ordered a kit to make mead (which is awesome! It uses champagne yeast...) and we couldn't do that until we bottled this ale.

So tonight DH sterilized the bottles and we managed to insert the beer into the bottles without threatening divorce.

Ah, the feeling of satisfaction, of a job well done! Now we can make the mead - and start the whole cycle again.

Back to politics tomorrow. Food for thought: Why have all the GOP campaign people been trashing Sarah Palin? Possibilities: 1) They want to get rid of her because they think she is a detriment to the party; 2) John McCain wants to be able to go back to the Senate and hold his head high after a disastrous campaign and he wants her to take the blame to exonerate him; or 3) She really is as big an idiot as they say she is and they just couldn't contain themselves anymore.

It may be a little of all three.


D.K. Raed said...

I had no idea making it was that complicated! Good thing drinking it is so easy.

Dave Dubya said...

I am a third generation home brewer. Never had a hangover from the stuff.

I still think the waiting is the hardest part.

Hey, was THAT the waiting Tom Petty was singing about?

Here's to a "sedimentary" life style.

Mauigirl said...

D.K., it can be even more complicated if you brew from grains. Agree about the drinking of it!

Dave, yes, when you bottle it and then have to wait for it to be ready - that takes patience! LOL about "sedimentary" lifestyle!

Billie Greenwood said...

It is fun for me to read this post since I just toured through the national brewing museum and learned a lot about making beer. I hope yours turns out nicely.

Mauigirl said...

BE, thanks, hopefully aging for 11 months in the carboy will just add to the flavor!

Anonymous said...

MG... one of my best friends is a homebrewer. Well, he hasn't done it in a while, but the batches he made were outstanding. He once asked me to hold onto the brown glass bottles to bottle his brews instead of the green ones. As I recall, it had something to do with the effect the light has on the beer. I could be wrong, but do you think you can shed some light on that?