Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Nick’s Brew Day: Part 1 of 3 - Setup

As you may recall, the last time I had a day to brew it didn’t go so well. This past Sunday I had another chance; this time, I managed to brew some beer without blasting myself in the face with water. Well, mostly without blasting myself in the face with water. This six hour ordeal is too much to cover in one post, so I’ll be breaking it up into three parts: “Setup ,” “Sanitizing,” and “Bubble, Boil, Toil and Trouble.” Anyhow, here’s the scoop.

My friend Matt moved away for a job in Virginia, but his parents graciously offered their patio and hose for my multifarious purposes. Brewing beer off-site alone has some pitfalls I wasn’t really expecting. It’s sort of like camping in that “if you didn’t pack it, you ain’t gonna have it.” It’s sort of not like camping in that you don’t need to pee in the woods. But I digress.

I intended to arrive bright and early, which for me means around ten O’clock. I started packing the car around nine but by the time I finished it was ten thirty. What took so long you might ask? Six gallons of water, propane, a turkey fryer with stock pot, two buckets, the kit, and all the other fermentology essentials take up a ton of room in the car. If the Tetris music wasn’t playing, it should have been; I definitely heard it.

Pitfall #1: If you drive a Honda Civic, reconsider brewing off-site.

When I finally rolled in around eleven and unpacked, it was approximately ninety degrees with a blistering sun. I had a hat and sunglasses, and figured I’d just hang out in the shade while the boil was going since my setup was in the full sun. I entirely underestimated the time it would take to clean and sanitize, so obviously one thing led to another and I fried up like cracklings in Louisiana. What are cracklings? A little bit of skin, a little bit of fat, and a little bit of meat deep fried Southern Style. I think the analogy fits.

Pitfall #2: Put on Sunblock if you’re brewing outside. If you don’t think you need it, put on twice as much.

Before I get deep into the “Sanitizing” section in the next post, I wanted to mention that PBW strips off sunscreen in milliseconds. It’s inevitable that when dunking your hands in the soap bucket to fish out the air exchanger parts or hydrometer it’s going to take sun block off your entire arm. Likewise, when rinsing parts or removing dripping wet equipment it’s going to take it off your feet. I don’t have a good solution other than this: reapply, bring a beach umbrella, or trick somebody into helping you brew.

All the sunburn should be worth it though. When this is all done, I should end up with two cases of Red Ale. That means one hell of a weekend to not remember.

16 comments:

  1. lol yes, I know from personal experience that driving a Honda Civic definitely makes transporting things from one place to another a challenge.

    Although, you'd be surprised how many clowns we could fit in there! ;P

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  2. Hey Guys!

    Really cool website! I love good beer and witty banter. Your website has it all. I thought I was doing good by drinking some good New Belgiume Brewery beers, but you guys seem to take it to the next level. I aspire to make my blogs as cool as yours. Any input you can give me would be great. You can find my blogs at An Alternate Truth and Friendly Herb Gardening Help. I look forward to your feedback. In the meantime, congrats on the Blog of Note praise and keep up the good work!

    Thanks,
    Brian

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  3. This is cool! How did you learn to brew beer?

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  4. I would like to eat that photo!!!
    Amazing blog!
    Congratulations!

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  5. @Brian Thanks! We don't really know if there's a trick to making a cool blog, but try the new Layout Builder in "Blogger in Draft." Posting often is also key, since there is like a 1000:1 ratio of blogs that are abandoned vs. active.

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  6. @Wise The brewing community is very friendly. I learned by searching for "Homebrew Supply" on Google maps, going to Princeton Homebrew, buying a kit, and asking lots of questions. It's not hard as long as you keep things clean.

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  7. Hey, brewing by yourself must be hard. Brewing at Brewery Ommegang where I work is hard enough.

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  8. @Reymundo The Brewery Ommegang? I envy you man. I love their beers.

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  9. @Reymundo @Splobucket Yeah man, Ommegang rocks! Hennepin and Three Philosophers are great, but you can't beat that Abbey Ale original.

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  10. I'm curious what sort of added flavor notes you get from sunscreen. (Coconut?)

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  11. @Eric Heh, I also worried about that. I don't think it's a problem though, PBW is an excellent organic solids remover; it should have fully emulsified the oils in the sunscreen. When I rinsed off the equipment before putting it in the Star San there should have been nothing remaining to impart an odor or flavor. +5 funny though.

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  12. yr stuff just gets better. Thx for a good lol.

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  13. Hey, is anybody wants to have in depth conversations about brewery ommegang, visit my blog www.socalkid-reymundo.blogspot.com. See ya!

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