One very micro, micro-brewery is this farm. I'm new to homebrewing, but I adore the entire process. From heating wort over the stove to clasping the final cap on the last bottle, it feels almost subversive. Like I am part of something I'm not supposed to be. Anyone out there who has opened a hand-sealed cap off a bottle of a backyard batch knows this feeling. A buzz in a bottle, a creation of alcohol and carbonation. I remember seeing that first ever IPA froth up and I could not believe I had done something in my kitchen I had only see done from factory products. It's like wearing a pair of jeans you sewed yourself. Totally possible, but rare to the uninitiated.
I am a homebrewer and proud of it. Equipment in this kitchen includes items like siphons and bottle cappers, sanitizing potions and saved brown bottles to wash and reuse from other (larger breweries). There are Guinness bottles full of hard cider in the fridge right now with shiny cold caps. The cider making wasn't exactly "brewing" since I wasn't over a hot kettle mixing grains and hops and then rapidly cooling it off before sticking it in a fermenting container with yeast. This was just apple juice fed honey and yeast and fermented twice to give it a kick. I drink it cold and feel the happy sting, like a sharp, flat, champagne. It's 12% alcohol and that's enough to stop anyone from driving the school bus after a few pints.
I think for a lot of people who like the idea of homebrewing, it just seems so complicated? The sanitizing, chemical reaction, racking bottles...what a bother. Truth is it can be. But it can also be very simple, just like any craft practiced in the home...
I can hand you a fiddle and ask you to play Old Joe Clark or a Bach Concerto. One is more complicated and usually higher praised for the effort and results, but that doesn't mean Old Joe Clark doesn't sound like a fun tune, get you dancing, and you made it yourself. My homebrew is like that. It's not fancy (yet), and nothing to brag about at the homebrewing contests around the area. But no one can dispute that what comes out of those bottles is frothy, home made beer. And to pour a glass of black homemade stout and play a fiddle tune you taught yourself is just as satisfying and real as any chicken raised for the table or hand-kneaded loaf of bread. It is growing a celebration from seed.
Today I'll mix and start a batch of an Irish Black Stout from a kit I have here. It'll be ready to drink in about three or four weeks. The small pony keg I use makes exactly a case of 12pz bottles, and a case lasts me a long time. I just ordered a intermediate kit from Northern Brewer called Peace Coffee Stout. It's a dark, smooth beer with coffee and spices in it. I added a larger brewing kettle to my arsenal as well and bought some growlers to fill and carbonate for parties or music circles in the spring. This batch should be ready by the Meat and Beer party workshop, where we'll brew several types of beers together and make homemade sausage from scratch (thanks to Kevin and Bacon). That day will end with music, homebrew, and some seriously good brats and buns. If you're coming, bring your instruments!
I moved all thirty chicks outside in this weirdly warm weather we are having. It is 40 degrees out there. I swear it feels like a thunderstorm is coming...
P.S. If you are brand, brand new to homebrewing there are several beginner kits. I already talked about Mr. Beer (a company that I truly adore) for their kit beers anyone with a 2-gallon steel kettle can make good beer from. I suggest this super easy mix-and-pour brew kit for all beginners. For those ready for a little more of a challenge, there is this beautiful and inexpensive kit from the folks at Brooklyn Brew Shop for making a gallon of beer at home with a small glass carboy, and i can't think of a better gift to hand to hands-on friends. And no, neither of these companies are CAF sponsors!