Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Big Man Brewmaster

Last night I started my 5 gallon batch of beer, and was greeted this morning to the joyful bubbling of an airlock, releasing yeasty CO2 from the "Ale Pail".

I've made a couple of batches of beer before, but never more than 1 gallon. I think making 1 gallon of beer should theoretically be harder than making 5, since there is less room for error in such a small batch. Right? We'll see. As of right now, everything seems to be in place.

I bought a beer-making kit over the weekend. It was a little more expensive than I had hoped, and I was thankful that my wife didn't freak out after seeing me dish out $130 worth of beer making equipment and ingredients.

I have a book called "Extreme Brewing: An Enthusiast's Guide to Brewing Craft Beer at Home", which I think is worth getting if you're interested in brewing beer. It is by the guy who makes Dogfish Head Beer. His beers can tend to be a little, um, well, extreme, but it's nice to read something about beer making that sounds like it comes from someone who you'd actually like to drink a beer with, rather than it reading like VCR instructions. He apparently reverse engineered a beer that was found in a tomb over 2,700 years old. I dig that sort of stuff.

Anyway, so I (for the most part) followed his recipe for A-Z Brown Ale. It's called A-Z because there are 26 steps to making the beer. I did change a few things because I am limited in time and ingredients (my time limitation mostly just prevented me from having time to get different ingredients). I used different Malt Extracts than the ones that he specified, and the hops that I had were different than the ones that he called for. I don't think these are major problems, unless I was trying to make a beer that tastes just like the recipe he provided. But since I've never tasted that recipe, I didn't feel particularly attached to it.

Into the brew pot, I put in a lb. of crushed crystal malt, two 3.3 cans of malt extract, a 12 oz. jar of molasses, two ounces of hop pellets, and I sprinkled some cinnamon in there at the end, just to see what would happen. I will probably throw some orange rind in there at some point, and the recipe calls for adding maple syrup to the mix, once its gotten a chance to ferment for a while.

One of the big differences between a beer like this and the beer that we all grew up on is that this beer should boast some serious ABV (alcohol-by-volume). I'm guessing that when this is all said and done, we're talking 7-9% ABV.

I'm going to give a mead recipe a try as well, but since I only have one airlock, I'm going to have to wait until the beer is ready to be bottled. This will hopefully take place on November 13th, which is a Friday. What good fortune! I'll let you know how it turns out.

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