Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's 5 o'clock somewhere...

That's what I told Mr. ValleyWriter at 10:30 am Sunday morning when he was contemplating having a beer as we started our very first batch of homebrew beer. However, the boys at the local brew shop (Northampton Beer and Winemaking Supplies) had mentioned most home brewing disasters start with consumption of the product, so he decided to heed their warning.

Turns out, there's a lot of steps and instructions to making beer. Good thing we were sober! We had purchased a full starter kit from the brew shop, which comes with 2 sets of instructions. Plus, they've put instructions (with pics!) on their website here. Pretty much, it seems like you can't mess it up unless you're drunk.

Or so I thought until Mr. VW broke the hydrometer. That's the thing that eventually tells you what percentage of alcohol your beer is. Turns out, it has a big lead weight inside, so when you tip the package out on the table, it's prone to smashing all over the place. Oops.

No matter, we soldiered on. Mr. VW was confident we could do it without knowing the alcohol content. Sure, we could end up drinking grain alcohol - but we're New Englanders - we can handle it!!

After that little fiasco, and a mad dash to the local kitchen supply store for a 2 gallon stock pot, we were on our way!
First, we started out making a lovely mash (a bunch of grains that give the beer flavor):

That had to sit for 45 minutes, before we put it in a colander and ran 2 gallons of boiling water through it (hence the need for the 2-gallon stockpot):

We boiled that again for a while, and then added more ingredients (malt, hops, bitters):

Then we had to add a bunch of cold water before adding the yeast:

Finally, our brew was ready to rest in it's basement abode (classy, eh?):

Between boiling, add ingredients, boiling again, adding more ingredients, ad naseum - it took about 4 hours. And that's just the 1st stage! In a day or two, we'll move the brew from it's lovely white bucket to a snazzy glass container (called a "two-stage," I'm informed). Then a week after that, it'll be ready for bottling. Then it still has to sit around for a few weeks before we can drink it. I swear - this is like friendship bread or something - the baking project that never ends!

It's all good, though. We laughed, we (nearly) cried (over the broken hydrometer), we had fun! Stay tuned for more adventures in beermaking!


Jenn said...

Neat! I don't think I'd have enough patience to try making my own home brew. Maybe one day. But for now I'll just drink them.

Angie said...

that looks like alot of fun, we are trying for the first time this weekend. Hopefully it will turn out.

Kathryn said...

Oh, YAY! I'm loving this story! I can't wait to see how the beer turns out!

BTW: It sounds to me like Mr. VW could have had a beer...the end result would have been the same...no?

Tangled Noodle said...

Oh, I can't wait to hear how it goes! My in-laws pointed out a nearby store that specializes in home brewing/wine-making supplies. Too bad this wasn't ready before the snow arrived! Looking forward to the next installment. 8-)