I Haz Beer!

My beer is complete! My beer has sat in my friends’ basement for 2 weeks and my Irish Red is now a bouncing baby beer! (Here’s the first steps of homebrew)

I did a single fermentation. This was so easy! The bottling process was easier than I thought, the most difficult step I thought would be sterilizing, but luckily my pals let me mooch off of their dish washer which has a sterilization setting.

Folks, meet Seamus. He’s is a little molasses-y right now, but overall it everyone was fairly happy with him. I’m hoping the molasses fades a bit with time, but overall it tastes like an Irish Red.
A group of tasters agreed it was better than Killians, decent for beer in general, and a good job for a first attempt at homebrewing. This was a nice starter beer & I’m happy it turned out so well & was so well received. I had anticipated a poor product, mainly since this was my first attempt, but the kit made it pretty straightforward.

I’m not quite sure what the ABV was since I didn’t test it before I added the sugar to ferment it, and it was reading at 3% after I opened a bottle. Based on the panel of willing testers, this may have been higher than 3%. I’ll nerd out on the next homebrew, this was just a “Can I do this without creating an unfortunate science project in a bucket?” and since the answer to that appears to be “yes” I will try to nerd out on my next round.

Also, if you’re looking for bottles, you can try a beverage center, they may give you their returned bottles for the $0.05 bottle deposit fee. Prior to this my panel of tasters did their best to empty a case of 22 oz Beck’s, which are non-twisty bottles.

Homebrew Attempt #1

I can’t tell if I like these photos this big. Lemme know your thoughts…
I ordered a groupon for Midwest Supplies. It was something like $50 for their Starter Kit, plus a choice of beer to brew. Albany John chose an Irish Red. It comes with a bunch of stuff for easy home brewing. You can see the different hops, cheescloth, molasses, grains, yeast, and priming sugar above.

And here is some of the other stuff in one of the brewing buckets. Caps, some hosing, and a few bottle brushes. Also a temperature sticker (which I didn’t use) and a hydrometer.

Handy Dandy capper.But we don’t need that just yet.

The brewing kit makes it fairly easy to figure out how to brew. They also have a PDF of their directions in case you lose things easily or get the sheet they include wet. Not that I did that. Any way, the first step is to put your crushed grains in the cheesecloth bag & steep them at about 150-155 for 10-30 minutes. I did 30 minutes because the sheet told me that the longer it steeped the better. Okie dokie.

I got tired of holding a thermometer in the water in short order, so I rigged this old wire hanger so the thermometer hung into the water without touching the bottom.

Once that’s done, take the grains out and the water off of the heat. It looks like tea. Then toss in the included molasses. Stir until it dissolves.

Once that dissolves, toss in the Cascade bitter hops. They are pellet hops. This starts the long part of the brewing process.

Once this starts to boil, let it go for 60 minutes, then toss in the Fuggle hops for the last 2 minutes. I used a really big pot, so I didn’t have to worry about any boil overs. I kept walking away from the pot and ignoring it for minutes at a time. This will probably bite me in the ass the next go-round, but my kitchen escaped unscathed this first time.

After the hops are added, Midwest urges you to cool down the brew as quickly as possible. The total water needs to add up to 5 gallons, so they suggest using a whole bunch of fancy tools that I didn’t have… or using ice as part of the water you add to get the entire brew up to 5 gallons. I went with the ice method, and also had a fan going in the kitchen pointed near the hot brew.

Once things had cooled down, I added it to my sanitized brewing bucket and tossed in the yeast.

Once that’s done, pop the airlock on and then mooch off of some friends for the use of their sweet, cool basement (which hovers aroun 65-70F) and peace out for 2 weeks. I liked that the kit said I could use the hydrometer, but that letting it go for 2 weeks would pretty much be fine. Sure enough it was. I plan on nerding out on future brews, but wanted to take a low-key approach this first time so I wouldn’t get pissed if I screwed it up.

After 2 weeks, continue to mooch off of friends by using their dishwasher to sanitize your beer bottles (bonus points if you have friends that will sanitize them for you while you drive over).

Then bottle!

The next round of homebrewing will showcase the finished product. 2 weeks.