My nephew has been brewing beer for almost a year, and he has progressively raised my interest level in it. (Another factor is Oregon’s large selection of good craft beers.) I finally took the plunge and bought beer making gear and ingredients for a German style wheat beer (hefeweizen) at Valley Vintners & Brewer. I also tracked down a propane burner for heating water (the sort people use to burn down their houses when frying turkeys). The basic beer making process is pretty straightforward: steep grains in hot water, boil malt extract, add hops at certain times, strain into a carboy with cold water, chill to less than 80°, and pitch the yeast. The devil is in the details … and the sanitation.
The picture at the right is my first batch 36 hours into fermentation. The half gallon mason jar is acting as an air lock to deal with all the foam. I’ll rack to a secondary in a week, and then bottle it 1 to 2 weeks after that. Beer brewing is more rewarding than wine making (if you like beer) because the result is ready so quickly. As is my wont, I’m already reading about ways to make the process more complicated and less dependent on purchased ingredients: grain mash brewing, yeast washing, barley malting, hop growing, etc. Now my long term goal is to brew directly from barley and hops grown on site. Don’t tell Robin. I think her long term goal is electric lighting.