The day begins around 10 or 11 in the morning as the six of us gather, as we often do, bleary-eyed and ready to share tales of the previous nights events. A big silver pot sits in the middle of the garage, atop a blazing flame, ready to heat gallons of water for the mash. It’s the usual scenario, Oz busy checking temperatures and equipment with Eric close by, eager to learn as much as he can. Meanwhile, JD and I joke and trade jabs with Ryan as we crack open the first beers of the day. This week we’re joined by Trish, normally a light beer drinker; we’re determined to get her drinking craft beer (and liking it) before the day is done. When the water is hot enough, it’s transferred to the mash tun, in our case a converted cooler whose insulated walls will help keep the proper temperature. Grain is added, creating the mash that will produce our wort. Steam rises from the mixture as the rich aroma, like warm oatmeal, fills the air.
For Christmas this year, I gave JD a homebrew kit to make a DIY version of Rogue’s Brutal IPA, one of our favorite Rogue beers. You could say this was somewhat selfish of me, seeing as though I would inevitably be joining him in the brewing process, as well as enjoying the fruits of our labor… but if you say it to my face, I might not share any with you when it’s done fermenting, sooo….. it’s probably best to keep those kinds of opinions to yourself.
Anyway, we spent yesterday afternoon brewing beer.
The kit makes an easy-to-manage 5 gallon batch. The box contained everything we needed, except the yeast (due to shipping restrictions), but the instructions told us what was recommended. We started out steeping the grain, then adding the first bag of dry malt extract to create the wort. Then it’s time to start the clock for the boil. We added the bittering hops first (Centennial), after about 45 minutes, the flavor hops (Crystal), and finally the aroma hops (Crystal again). The boil is my favorite part of homebrewing process because of the smells. OH THE SMELLS! As the wort boils, there’s not much to do but sit around and drink a few beers with your friends (Ok, maybe *that’s* my favorite part of homebrewing) and the smells that waft through the air as the ingredients blend together are just heavenly. We brewed in a huge warehouse and the whole place was filled with the sweet smell of boiling wort. It’s like baking fresh bread, only better because it’s BEER.