Home Brew #1 – Nut Brown Ale

21 Jan

The beer, ready for fermentation.

This fall I decided a needed a new hobby. Picking something that you will want to spend a lot of time perfecting can be tricky, so I took a look what I enjoy.

  • Eating, eh already close to mastering that art.
  • Running, at this point I already consider that one a hobby.
  • Dancing, whoa, I embarrass myself with enough of that as it is.
  • Drinking, bingo.

But I got to thinking, “Hobbies:  Drinking” isn’t really a winning self descriptor. So I decided to combine my creative juices, with something that will produce the ultimate reward. For Christmas I asked for a home brewing kit.

Last Sunday was the first big day of this brand new hobby. For those of you who have never brewed beer before, there are really two big days to each batch. The first is brew day, the second the bottling day. Sunday was my first brew day.  For the first batch, I wanted something easy, tasty, and rich. I went with a Nut Brown Ale.

Grains in the brew pot

Grains in the brew pot

It took me about an hour to get organized. I laid out the ingredients and equipment and did little more than stare at all the malts and tubes for nearly twenty minutes. Once I finally began piecing everything together, I started feeling a little more comfortable.  Before I knew it, I had grains simmering in the pot, and yeast rehydrating on the counter.  I was on a roll.

I boiled in the malt for nearly an hour, adding hops along the way.  When the boil was finished, I carefully added the wort to the water in the carboy and pitched the yeast.  I covered the carboy with an old sweatshirt, and placed it where it now resides in the corner of my closet.

Just 8 hours later, the yeast was really in action with the airlock bubbling violently, indicating that fermentation was taking place.  Yesterday I noticed that things had already slowed down, so I might be bottling as early as this weekend.  I was a little surprised at how rapidly the fermentation slowed, but I have been told it is nothing to worry about.  One ‘plus’ to preparing for bottling day is that you need to supply around 50 empty bottles.  The best way to do that is drink around 50 beers.  I didn’t plan ahead enough to start saving over the past few weeks, so this week I’ve been ‘forced’ to play catchup.

While I will not know for a few more weeks if this first attempt was successful, I feel good about my efforts.  I got a feel for what it takes, and how to think ahead.  I now have no doubt that this will be a hobby enjoyed (by myself and my friends) for many years to come.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Don’t rely on a single Brita pitcher to purify 5 gallons of water.
  2. Make sure you have someone who knows what they are doing in your speed dial.  Thanks Greg.

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