A few months ago, my boyfriend had a birthday.
And I don’t mean to brag, but I’m pretty good at gift giving. It helps that T-Man is pretty easy to shop for. But I’m pretty good at gift giving.
For it being an IPA, it was a much easier process than anticipated. T-Man decided it was a two-person job, so I got to help! (read: I hovered over his shoulder and took pictures. And now you all get to benefit!)
Here’s how we did it:
That funnel up there that Amazon suggested I buy with the kit- HAHAHA. Don’t be like me, kids. Buy yourself a big boy funnel and strainer.
The first step in the process is to sanitize EVERYTHING. The kit came with sanitizer, but the owner of our local brew shop told us that putting everything through one dishwasher cycle on “sanitize” mode (either without soap, or with soap w/o rinse aid) will do the trick. You’ll still have to sanitize your hands though. And pretty much everything you touch. It’s important to do this, or you run the risk of bacteria killing the yeast.
Ding! Nice and clean. [sidenote] how funny is it that T-Man’s roommate has Giada pots and pans? [end sidenote]
When you are making beer, make sure you have some good beer to drink as well.
The next step is to make the mash out of barley. Basically, you’re cooking a pot of oatmeal.
Makeup-less photo bombing and making sure the temperature of the mash is correct are also important parts of this step. You will cook the mash for an hour, keeping the temperature around 160 degrees and stirring about every 10-15 minutes.
Then, you have barley-oatmeal. AKA mash.
Next, you strain the mash, run hot water over the mash, then run the strained barley-oatmeal juice over the mash a second time.
What you have left is called the wort. This will –> BEER!
The wort gets cooked for another hour. This is when we added hops – Columbus hops at the beginning, then Cascade hops at different intervals throughout the hour. I was silly and didn’t get any good pictures of the hops being added in…
Up until this point, it had taken us a good 3 hours or so just to sanitize everything, and make the mash and wort.
Next, you cool down the wort to ~70 degrees F as quickly as possible.
When you don’t stir it for a while, it starts looking really cool…like miso soup.
Next, you put it into a fermenter (this jug came with the kit), add yeast and a tube for the blow-off from the fermentation, and let it sit in a dark place for 2 weeks! (after about 3 days, the tube will be replaced with a different valve-type thing)
2 weeks later….
(and yes, you sanitize again too.)
We purchased these swing-top bottles from the aforementioned brew shop. They are about 1 pint (16 oz) each.
Proud man and his beer! At this point, it is almost a drinkable beer…All the sediment from the yeast has sunk to the bottom. The only thing remaining is to make it bubbly!
You do this by adding sugar. We mixed warm water and raw honey for our sugar source.
(nerd points to anyone who understands what T-Man’s shirt is referencing)
What we did next was put the honey water into the bottom of our pot, then we siphoned the beer from its fermenting jug into the pot, so that the sugar mixed with the beer.
This was, um, complicated to say the least…so no photos. The trickiest part is holding the siphoning tube in such a way that you get as much beer as you can from the jug without any sediment from the bottom. Definitely harder than it looks. But once we got all the beer into the pot, siphoning it into the bottles was no sweat!
Our little station: I was at the table handling the beer pot, T-Man was down low bottling the beers.
We made a pretty good team!
Because we’d rather have fewer beers that tasted good than more beers with a potential hint of yeast sediment in them, we only ended up with about 6 1/2-7 pints.
T-Man marked which ones we poured first and which ones were poured last (and had the highest chance of sediment infiltration).
2 more weeks later…
On Saturday, we tried one from each end of the batch!
So far, so good…
So, long story short- the beer is great! It’s a pretty citrusy IPA, and not as bitter as a lot of IPAs. I could probably have guessed that when we were adding the hops- the hops that we added in a large quantity of at the beginning were very citrus smelling, while the hops we added gradually were a little more strong/bitter smelling, if that’s possible.
Two IPA haters tried the beer and, surprise surprise, hated it. Two IPA lovers (T-Man and I) tried it and enjoyed it. Two people who think IPAs are just so-so also enjoyed it. So we got a whole range of opinions and the general consensus is positive!
The last bottle that we thought would be the worst actually wasn’t too bad. A little bit of extra yeast taste, if anything, but it was definitely still drinkable!
The only major issue with the beer that we’ve found is:
Maybe a little too carbonated? Haha.
Overall it turned out great, and Brooklyn Brew Shop has a good kit and instructions that make it so that you understand the process. It really is just a recipe when it comes down to it, and during our visit to Brew Ferment Distill we saw so many other hops and grains to use, and are excited to tweak our recipe in the future!
Have you ever home brewed?
What’s your favorite kind of beer?