Monday, August 13, 2012

Becoming the Alewife

If you read this little blog regularly, you'll remember many moons back when I posted about purchasing a nifty beer brewing kit from WindRiver Brewing Company, a local business specializing in making homebrewing accessible to all of us neophytes out there in the wilderness.

My little kit has patiently waited for the day when I would break open the tape on the packing box and start making my own bottled beer.  Today was that day.  Partly because it just felt like a day for a fiddly cooking project, and partly because I needed the fridge space being taken up by the brewing ingredients for homemade refrigerator pickles.

We all find our motivation somewhere.

It was a splendidly long project, involving dipping of grain-filled supersized tea bags, repetitive stirring of tar-like syrups, and the precise addition of a dried bat wing...well, no bat wings, but you get the idea.  This definitely is a process for a day when you don't have to rush out and run errands, because there is no speeding up the brewing process.  Apparently, if you try to rush things, your beer will be undrinkable.  And that, my dears, is unthinkable!  Har har.

Along the way, I took a few pictures to add as a photo essay:

After adding the specialty grains, it starts to look like a murky tea.

Dip...dip...dip...plunging the sack of grains!
No, these are not off-brand breast implants.  This is the malt syrup you add to the initial grain tea.

Very shiny bags of bittering herbs, aroma hops, and brewing yeast: All added at specific times in the brewing process.

After the slow boil is done, you can measure the initial alcohol content using a hydrometer.  This nifty device also lets you check to see when fermentation is finished, and comes with the kit.

The wort, or unfermented beer mixture, is poured into the fermentation bucket.  Note the nifty fermentation lock on top!
 I can't wait to see the fermentation lock start bubbling away, indicating that the happy yeast cells are multiplying and making my wort into beer.  The house smells like hot grains--actually, it smells kind of like brewed coffee, but different.  I wonder if it would be easy enough to brew up a homemade batch of ginger ale?  Root beer?  Maybe sarsaparilla?  Oh, the options!

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