Brewing beer

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.

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6 Responses to Brewing beer

  1. Matt says:

    Aha, now you’re talking my language!!! This is looking good, mate!

  2. Jessica says:

    Hmmmm….I might be with Robin on this one. Unless you think that if Robin has enough beer, she quits caring about having her house wired?

  3. Jessica says:

    Hey, are you going to buy the really cool looking bottles on that website? Or the boring cheap ones? If you buy the cheap ones, I think you need a label and that Robin and I should be in charge of label design. Just think, we could put big hearts and fluffy dogs all over your bottles of hefeweizen! Call it “Edgar Drool” Beer.

  4. lee says:

    “Edgar Drool” … something not very appetizing about that.

    I’m not sure which ones are the boring ones and which ones are the cool ones. I plan on getting some of the 1L swing top bottles. It takes 21 of them to bottle 5 gallons of beer. I can also recap existing 12oz bottles for sharing (I have 12 Widmer Twilight bottles ready for that), and I bought a couple bottles of imported beer in 16oz swing tops at the grocery store (oddly they are only slightly more expensive than buying new empty bottles). Oh, and all will be brown. Brown bottles protect the beer from light degradation.

    What about fancy masking tape labels? ­čÖé

  5. lee says:

    Matt — I thought this post might get your attention. Have you been brewing anything since the move? Also, have you figured out if you like beer yet? ­čÖé

  6. Jarom says:

    If there isn’t a texture on the bottle, etch the glass into a label shape and then use a grease pencil or chalk to label the bottles. It is really handy and you can etch initials/ a maker’s mark on the other side too!

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