A few months back, my wife and I stopped in to this brand new home brew shop that opened up in our neighborhood. Prior to entering the shop, I always thought of brewing my own beer as being some imagined fantasy. I psyched myself out by thinking of dozens of reasons why I simply couldn’t do it. When I stepped into the shop and tried my first home brewed beer, I absolutely loved it and thought to myself, “MAN I really gotta make a beer like this some day!!” Several weeks passed, and I still couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Then Christmas came, and my brother texted me letting me know he got me the best gift ever. We exchanged gifts, I tore the wrapping paper off mine, and I was surprised to find a box from the Brooklyn Brew Shop for my very own home brew kit! I had never even TOLD my brother I was interested in home brewing, but the guy just knows me so well. With the kit in-hand I knew there was time for no more excuses – I just had to get to brewing!
First, if you’re not at all familiar with the Brooklyn Brew Shop’s kit, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. Here’s a link to their website: http://brooklynbrewshop.com. The kit is an excellent starter package for anyone who has entertained the idea of home brewing. It comes with most of the things you’ll need to get started like a one-gallon carboy, blow-off tubing, grains specific for the flavor you want to brew, pitching yeast, hops, a thermometer, a stopper, sanitizer, and a racking cane. You’ll definitely need to have some of your own equipment, but it’s such a great collection of things to start out with!
My first brew was a Chocolate Maple Porter. I just finished bottling and capping my batch on Wednesday of last week, so I’ve got about a week and a half left until I’m able to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I can’t wait to try it! I learned a lot from my first brewing. Like for example, I definitely stuck my blow-off tube too deep into my carboy. Somehow I misread the instructions so that when it said to stick the tube only about an inch into the screw cap, I interpreted that as if I should stick the tube an inch into my wort! When I checked on my beer the next morning, I was disappointed to find that a good portion of my wort had squirted out through my blow-off tube and onto the floor of my kitchen cabinet. Ah well, lesson learned. Here’s hoping the batch still turns out pretty well.
I was so excited by my first experience that I started my second brew yesterday in anticipation of finishing off my first batch and running out of great home brew to drink! For this batch I didn’t want to purchase another kit; I wanted to try my hand at gathering the right ratio of grains, some yeast, and some sanitizer at my local shop to brew my second batch. I used the website Beersmith for a little guidance with tried-and-true recipes. I’m making my very own Amber Ale for the Mrs. since she tends to like paler, sweeter beers. Here was the recipe I put together for a one-gallon batch:
- One pound of pre-crushed 2-row grain
- Eight ounces of Caramel/Crystal Malt 60L
- Eight ounces of Munich Malt
- Four ounces of Cara-Pils/Dextrine
- Four ounces of Flaked Rye
- Amarillo hops
Right this moment the yeast are busily and happily feasting on all of the yummy sugars in the carboy underneath my kitchen cabinet! I’ll update you when I’ve tasted my first batch and when my second batch is completed! I’ll probably be working on my third batch before I get to enjoy that second one.
If you’re interested in home brewing, I won’t sugar coat it for you: it is a bit of a time commitment, and it’s not the easiest thing to do in the world. But there’s just something about the whole process and the do-it-yourself crafting that makes it really worthwhile for me that I’m pretty committed to making this one of my favorite hobbies. I hope the end results push me even more to want to continue with more great brewing!