Last year I started homebrewing my own beer and while I said I’d keep this blog updated on the process I never followed through. Since then I’ve brewed a multitude of beers- a nut brown ale, two California Steam-style ales, a hefe weizen, a coffee stout, a chocolate milk stout, a British bitter, and my latest, a Scotch strong ale, of which sadly only one bottle still exists in my fridge. I’ve also got a pumpkin ale in the primary fermenter. The tastiest beer was likely the bitter- the worst, the hefe weizen, which I tried to turn into a raspberry ale by just dumping a bottle of extract in the secondary. Imagine drinking liquid raspberries… it was noxious. But it’s been exciting and fun and remarkably easy.
I don’t think people realize how simple it is to start homebrewing. With less than a hundred bucks you can be completely set to start brewing your own delicious beer, any ale you can think of (lagers need a little more work, as they ferment at colder temperatures). Beginners can pick up kits that give you all the instructions and ingredients you need to make a certain kind of beer, and they run anywhere from 20-30 bucks. That much money will get you five gallons of beer. Sure, it takes a little time and care, but how great of a deal is that?
I’ve upgraded my little equipment a bit in the last few months and tomorrow I get one of the most exciting things- a keg draft system. This bad boy (and CO2 canister) is going to take up prime real estate in my fridge, so I think you can appreciate just how great my wife is by not even batting an eye about it. The keg system means that no longer will I have to hold 50+ bottles in my house, clean and sanitize them, fill them with beer, cap them, and wait two weeks- I’ll just have to get the keg set up, pour in the beer and carbonate it using the CO2. That means beer in a day or two!
Homebrewing has really become an obsession with me. I’ve read four books on the subject so far, and have picked up a bunch more this week from some of the people behind my favorite breweries (Garrett Oliver from Brooklyn Brewery, Sam Calagione from Dogfish Head) and am likely going to join the Homebrewer’s Association. This summer I’m going to try and grow organic hops out of a pot in my backyard with the intention of brewing an all-organic IPA this fall. There’s just something about finally realizing where all the little flavors in your drinks come from, about understanding how much craft really goes into creating a beer. And of course, there’s nothing like having all your friends over to drink and enjoy your very own creation.
I can see getting even more into my hobby in the year to come, as visions of kegerators and all-grain systems are floating in my head. I want to go to all the local NYC breweries and see how the pros do it, I want to meet more homebrewers and get tips, and I want to write about the experience. Hopefully this time I’ll be able to keep this blog updated and be able to share it with all of you.
Any questions, thoughts, suggestions? Love to hear it all!