Learn to Brew

So what's involved in brewing exactly? Let me demystify it for you:

Brewing isn't as difficult as you might think, especially if you buy a kit. It's more about keeping things clean and less about technique. If you can make hard-boiled eggs without setting your kitchen on fire or getting salmonella you can probably brew beer.

When I explain the process to inquiring individuals I generally relate it to tea. Creating the wort is very similar to brewing tea except that there is much more of it (3 or 5 gallons.) Much like tea, you're not trying to boil it (that would be broth); you're trying to extract certain flavors and aromas which only diffuse out at or below a certain temperature. The tannins, which taste sour and gross only leech out if you let the wort hit 170 F-175 F (while the grain is steeping.)

Simple Fact #1: Grain in a cheesecloth is like tea in a teabag in many ways

Once you have your wort, you're going to make some hops soup. You need to fish out the grain bag, let it drip into the wort, and throw it away. Splat! Just don't forget where you throw it, since the contents are extremely sticky. My friend's parents found one in their yard a month later and thought it was a dead animal. Yes it gets that gross.

Note: Used grain bags aren't anything you want to step on or hit with a lawnmower.

Once you get the wort up to a  boil, you throw in some flavoring hops pellets (which look just like rabbit food.) If you put them in a cheesecloth your dregs, or drub as it is known will be considerably lower (but it's totally optional). Five minutes before the end of the boil, you throw in your aroma hops.

After the boil ends, you cool off the brew pot in a bucket of ice-water and pour it into a cement bucket to ferment for two weeks. Drink two cases of beer with pop-caps during that time, so you have some empty bottles to use. We like Anchor Steam or Sam Adams since the labels come off easily, but Sierra Nevada and New Castle work too.

Simple Fact #2: The second stage of beer-making is like making soup.

Bonus: Drinking beer is a big part of making it

After that, you just bottle using a siphon and wait a while longer. Presto! Wonderful Home Brew.

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