I'll admit it, I'm a bit of a beer nerd.  I've outgrown Coors Light (mostly) and am at a point where if I want to have a beer, I want to enjoy a tasty craft beer.  My uncle has dabbled in some home brewing and out of the 5 or 6 beers he's done that I've been able to taste, there hasn't been one that I wouldn't order again in a bar.  Uncle Tim, if you're reading this, I smell a second career here somewhere.  After chatting up said Uncle/resident brewmaster at our family reunion, I ended up with a couple brewing magazines, and this from my mom:

(Happy Birthday to me!).

The brewing process takes four weeks from start to finish, so I really wanted to get it started last weekend.  I ran out of weekend, so I ended up doing this after work on Monday.  First lesson learned, this is something best done on the weekend when you have plenty of time, as you've got a couple of hours of pure cooking time, not to mention my first time jitters and re-reading instructions in an attempt to do it right.  I've always heard that sanitation is crucial in brewing and that any contamination will kill your yeast and leave you with warm, cloudy water instead of fizzy, delicious beer.  I following the instructions and sanitized everything that I'd use (I hope).

The first step was the mash.  The kit includes a bag of pre-mixed grains, barley and hops, so it's just a matter of heating the water, adding the grains and mixing it up.  You have to monitor the temperature to keep it in range and let this stuff cook for an hour.


While the mash cooks, I got another pot and some more hot water for the sparge.  That's beer nerd speak for straining the cooked grain and pouring water through it to extract the sugars and stuff.  I did this a couple times while playing musical pots and a crafty game of "don't spill this and make a giant mess".



Careful, now

Once you get your grainy water, aka wort, you start to boil it, and throughout the boil you add hops.  I'm guessing for other varieties, you can add more things here, but for this IPA, it was hops city.  I diligently watched the clock to monitor my boil and add the goodness over the next hour or so.  The instructions mention that your boil will cook things down some, but mine cooked down quite a bit, which was the only part of the process that worried me.  After the cook time was done, I cooled down my pre-beer to get it ready to ferment.


Once everything chilled out, I put it into the fermenter, topped it off with water, added the yeast and shook, and said a little prayer.  Something along the lines of please don't let me have done all of this for nothing, then it was down to the basement for some quiet time.

Shhhh, I'm fermenting

Hats off to Brooklyn Brew Shop who created the everything-you-need one gallon brewing kit that I used.  A couple initial thoughts on this kit.  One, this is a great way to pretty simply try out a home brew, as you don't need a bunch of extra stuff, large pots, etc.  Two, this is kind of a lot of work for roughly 10 beers.  All said though, based on my experience, this was kind of fun.  I like to cook anyway, and there's something cool about cooking friggin' beer.  That is, unless this batch is ruined in which case, I may rely the local beer shop and just buy the finished product.  I'll do another post once everything is bottled and tasted, so stay tuned in about a month for that.