Friday, March 19, 2010

Adventures in Home Brewing, 1st Edition

So after several years of telling Sarah I wanted to brew my own beer, I have finally ventured into the wonderful world of Home Brewing! Thanks in part to Sarah, who got me a substantial gift certificate from Beer and Wine Hobby in Woburn, I was able to purchase the True Brew Maestro Beer Equipment Kit, and some other goodies. For $79.95 you get all the equipment to make a five gallon batch, with the exception of the Brew Kettle (aprox $50), bottles, and a True Brew kit of your own. They do have other options, which include a glass carboy, wort chiller, and ingredient kit, but if you're on a limited budget you can go with one of the lower priced kits which still get the job done.

The first beer I picked up was the True Brew Bavarian Hefeweizen. I had only brewed once before this, which was supposed to be a honey wheat lager. It turned out to be more ciderish (read the One Brine Day to learn a bit more) than we had planned, but it was simply just okay. I swore to myself this would be better! Anyway, all the publications say that cleanliness is the number one thing to keep in mind, so I was doing whatever I could to ensure that no foreign bacteria would be introduced to the beer. Bacteria and wild yeast can creep its way into your beer if you're not careful and will create off flavors, so that was the last thing I wanted.

The Boil!

We have fermentation!

To make a long story short(er), the gravity readings were consistent, so it was time to bottle. Thanks to Sarah, we were able to bottle in about 45 minutes or so and after three weeks of conditioning (allowing the beer to carbonate) the beer was ready to drink.

The first pint

Evaluating the beer

According to Beer & Wine Hobby, the beer is described as "a true Bavarian delight! Cloudy with classic banana and clove phenols wrapped up with crisp wheat flavors. Serve in a tall glass with a slice of orange" with a similar taste to Hacker Pschorr or Franziskaner (one of my favorite wheat beers). Although it turned out better than I anticipated, it didn't quite have the same flavor to Hacker Pschorr or Franziskaner - but close enough for my first time! I went from February 20th until last night since having one, and to my delight it's actually aged quite well and now has a more soft flavor. I guess even beer gets better with age (within reason).

Tasting the beer

Like anything new and exciting, I've become insanely hooked on brewing already. Since my first trip to Beer and Wine Hobby back in December, I've made at least three more trips and have picked up more brewing kits, and have three more beers ready for brewing- including two more non-kit brews from Williams Brewing, The Amber I brewed on February 7th is currently conditioning in my kitchen and should be ready in a few more weeks. I also just brewed a Red Ale last night, which should be ready in 4-6 weeks. I'll make sure to give a full report on both beers when they're ready to drink!

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