Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bottling By The Gallon

I'll be bottling beer tonight, around five gallons. Two weeks ago at Antlerstock Adam King did a great and involved introduction to homebrewing and brewed a demo batch of porter for everyone to watch. As a parting gift, they left it here and I was thrilled to accept it. I have some pop-top glass beer bottles and some growlers of various sides to fill with the flat beer. I'll use a siphon and with the help of some table sugar added to each bottle before capping—I'll have carbonated beer ready to drink in a week.

I'm excited about the mini 32 oz. growlers I ordered from Northern Brewer. Once carbonated and ready to drink these will be coming along with me as gifts at Halloween parties and dinners. I love the typography, and of course they are reusable (though they need new lined caps for every filling). If I could get Northern Brewer to support this blog I would, I've ask but never got a response. But I don't care if they do or not because those boys in Minnesota know their stuff. Every kit or recipe I have tried from them has turned out to be the best beer I ever tasted. Soon as these 5 gallons are bottled and carbonating (priming in the lingo of brewers) I am going to brew up another 5 gallons of their sweet stout. It'll take an hour of boiling over the stove in a big steel kettle. It's a fun hour though. I play audiobooks on the speakers and listen to stories (Currently listening to all three unabridged Lord of The Rings Books) while I seep grains, pour malt, add hops and sip my last homebrew while I dream of the current one. It's gotten to the point where there's always going to be something fermenting in this house.

When I was at the Zymurgist in Saratoga a few days ago a scruffy guy in his early twenties came in with the focus of a scientist in a lab coat. He carefully picked out grains by the pound, then the right sealed package of hops and yeast. He was brewing on a whole different level than I was but I sure was intrigued. He would be making a wort from scratch. Wow. I stared at him in awe. He's doing what I hope to do someday, know the craft so well I can just shop for the perfect blend to make a house brew. Though to be honest, what I really want to do is grow my own barley and hops and make my own TRULY Cold Antler blend.

That's a ways off, but for now I am thrilled with my adventures in kits and kettles. And the beer I am bottling today was from a no-boil kit by Munton's. Which means this 5-gallon batch was made from a pre-made wort so easy yo brew Adam showed us in under half an hour. Instead of boiling your own mixed grain/hop wort it comes in a can and you mix it with warm water then add yeast and BAM, you just made beer at home. It's a safe way to get started if homebrewing makes you nervous. Those Muntons box kits and the well known, Mr. Beer starter kits are a great way to get cracking.

14 Comments:

Blogger kbrow said...

This book:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Complete-Homebrewing-Third-Edition/dp/0060531053

was my homebrewing bible, when I was deep into making the good stuff. I used a combination of extracts and grains; some fine recipes in there. Also recipes for root beer and gingerale.

I will get back to it, eventually. Moving to Hawaii (too hot to brew/ferment properly) triggered the unloading of my tools and supplies to an appreciative neighbor, but as we move closer to the VA farmette, when my hubby retires, I think longingly of the hoppy-scented boil...

October 18, 2012 at 9:09 AM  
Blogger SmallestGiantEver said...

I appreciate the kind words about the brewing demo; hope the beer turns out well. For those who couldn't attend Antlerstock and are interested in brewing, I recommended How to Brew by John Palmer (previous edition online at howtobrew.com), Brewing Classic Styles by Jamil Zainesheff, and the Jamil Show/Can you Brew it? podcasts at thebrewingnetwork.com. Jenna, I'll send up some hop rhizomes in the spring to get you started on growing your own.

October 18, 2012 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Margaret said...

my son an I made a batch from a kit a few weeks ago, and it was watery and not very bubbly. I think we brought it to a boil too fast and didn't leave the bag of grain in long enough. I have a powerful gas burner we usually use, and I think I need to slow it down.

October 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

my son an I made a batch from a kit a few weeks ago, and it was watery and not very bubbly. I think we brought it to a boil too fast and didn't leave the bag of grain in long enough. I have a powerful gas burner we usually use, and I think I need to slow it down.

October 18, 2012 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger kaelak said...

Adam (SmallestGiantEver) and I grow hops - its not too difficult. They're vines so it's best if you have an arbor they can grow over but it can be as easy as a pot and some twine thrown over a close tree branch. And as I understand it, the hop cones can be thrown in green to some brews - they don't even have to be dried! Adam makes a batch of beer every year with his own home-grown hops. If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow hops for your own beer.
Mmmm.....now I want some beer.

October 18, 2012 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger Pit Stop Farm said...

Jenna - can you recommend any of stouts/porters that Northern Brewer carries? I have their catalog at home but have yet to order. The Caribou Slobber brown ale intrigues me. I will be sure to drop your blog name when I make a purchase, as I had never heard of Northern Brewer until you mentioned them a while back.

October 18, 2012 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger City Sister said...

Thanks for these brewing posts. My husband has been hoping to begin his first batch of hard cider here soon.

October 18, 2012 at 3:39 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I suggest the Peace Coffee Porter and the Sweet Stout. I have had both (and am brewing more sweet stout tonight!) and adore them both. The second you can ad a vanilla bean to a few days before bottling....mmm. Perfect!

October 18, 2012 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

and thanks for the recs!

October 18, 2012 at 4:09 PM  
Blogger SmallestGiantEver said...

Margaret - Watery beer can be due to two things: either your first guess (that the grains didn't steep long enough, and you left a lot of sugars in the grain bag); or a wild yeast ate up all of the sugars. Best bet is to check with a hydrometer - only a couple bucks from homebrew shop, and you use it to check how strong the beer is going into the fermenter (Problem A) or if it's too thin after ferment (Problem B). Good Luck!

October 18, 2012 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger SmallestGiantEver said...

Pit Stop Farm - If I had to guess, the "Caribou Slobber" is NB's version of Big Sky Brewing's Moose Drool Brown Ale. The Can You Brew It? podcast interviewed Big Sky's brewer and got the recipe: might give you some insights into that kit as well.

October 18, 2012 at 4:44 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Thanks, SmallestGiantEver I have a hydrometer, I just need to find it and use it. We are trying another batch in a few weeks, and will slow it all down. I made lots of beer years ago, but now that my son is 21, its a great mother/son activity.

October 19, 2012 at 7:17 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Thanks, SmallestGiantEver I have a hydrometer, I just need to find it and use it. We are trying another batch in a few weeks, and will slow it all down. I made lots of beer years ago, but now that my son is 21, its a great mother/son activity.

October 19, 2012 at 7:19 PM  
Blogger horse newbie said...

Hi Jenna I thought I'd share this with the rest of your readers. Its a groupon offer for Mr. Beer starter Kit!

http://preview.tinyurl.com/8s8nql3

October 20, 2012 at 11:33 AM  

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