Monday, September 12, 2011

In which TK enters the craft brewing business

Despite the fact that I have no facial hair and a BMI solidly within normal range, yesterday I joined the ranks of Dudes Who Brew Beer At Home. Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed the brewing process (well, Stage 1 of it, anyway). "Surprising" because I don't really like anything.

I'm not going to break down the whole 4-hour process into what I did because that would be boring. Basically, it involves a lot of boiling things and then cooling things off and then boiling something else and then cooling that off and then pouring yeast into it. It's more difficult than making Top Ramen and less difficult than making chili. It does make your house smell strongly beer-y, for lack of a better word. Not really like beer, but like something related to beer. It's this sort of fetid, yeast-y, agricultural smell. Also, hops smell a lot like marijuana. This must be the reason that so many homebrew guys are probably also big stoners. (The guy who taught the beer-making class I went to acknowledged this reality on several occasions.) I can also say that the process felt vaguely medieval. I can easily see a monk in 1358 doing pretty much the same thing I did, except over an open fire instead of a Kenmore stovetop and also probably not while occasionally checking in on the 49ers.

I ended up with 5 gallons of a dark brown liquid. It is now in the Primary Fermenter, which sounds complicated but which is actually a 5-gallon bucket with an airlock on the top, which is actually a bendy plastic tube that lets gasses out but doesn't let anything floating around in. Every few minutes, the Primary Fermenter makes a reverse-burping sound and, I suppose, gasses come out, although you can't smell anything.

Saturday we do the First Racking, which means we pour the stuff out of the Primary Fermenter and into the Secondary Fermenter, which is a big glass jug. We should have beer ready to drink in like a month. I'll keep you posted.

If this goes well, I'm going to start distilling my own whiskey at home. Maybe I'll grow some tobacco too. And opium poppies can't be that hard to grow, right? Never mind. Disregard that. I never said that.


fisherbelle said...

Hops are in the same family as marijuana, go figure.

TK said...

So they are. I did not know that.

GG said...

Are you sure you're not my dad?

Pro tip from dad's experience: Sometimes the fermenting beer explodes spectacularly in the garage!

Anonymous said...

Have you come up with a name for your home brew yet?

Anonymous said...

Just don't end up like Bill Bell, who got caught brewing beer after Prohibition started up. (via SFPL

In May of 1920, his neighbors in La Lengua busted him for making 300 bottles of 4.25% beer! (No word if it was a lager or ale.)

What a bunch of fucking annoying neighbors. (I promise not to turn you in.)

TK said...

GG -

I seriously doubt I'm your Dad. But thanks for confirming all of The Wife's worst fears re: exploding fermenters!

thesoniashow -

Haven't firmly decided on anything, but our house is nicknamed Celebration Castle (originally after the Ponys album, not the Barbie thing, but I guess the former was named after the latter anyway), so that might be involved in the name.

burritojustice -

Fucking snitches.

GG said...

I'm kidding, I'm 37, or I guess maybe I was being way creepy. Also, Dad says you can drape a tarp over/around it so then if it explodes at least the clean-up will be limited.

Tamagosan said...

My bro and housemate is an experienced brewer. The beer smell is great (like visiting Anchor Steam only you get to hang out with your dog), but there is a lot of pots and jugs that seems to multiply and never get put away. Kegging is definitely better than bottling, but watch the Stuff Creep. Also, you may want to have a prenup-style discussion with The Wife on your feeling of installing a kegarator in the kitchin. JUST SAYING. I have it on good authority that distillery and wine-making is much easier.

But overall it is awesome. And when in doubt, relax. Have a homebrew. (Surely you have that book?)