Wednesday, April 3, 2013

First Home Brew!

I'm sure some of you have noticed that I have only been writing about visiting gardens and my projects at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden for the past year and have wondered if I am still doing all of my crazy hobbies.  The answer is YES!  And recently I have added a new one to the list.  That's right folks, I combined my two loves of good beer and making things from scratch and have dove into the world of home brewing.  It makes me so happy to write this and to share my photos. I feel like a proud mama as my baby brew is fermenting away in the corner of my dining room.
Original Gravity Homebrewing and Wine Making store in Lakeside

As I have made very clear, I'm a total hop head, so of course I needed to try an IPA for my first brew.  I chose an ingredient kit to ease me into brewing.  I visited my local homebrew store, Original Gravity (which is conveniently right across the street from the Garden), and was directed by the knowledgeable staff to a kit called "HopNog 2012"; a kit by Brewers Best.

Brewer's Best HopNog 2012 Ingredient Kit
Opening the package was like Christmas.  There were so many shiny packets of grains and hops and malt and yeast, oh my!  I also bought a book on brewing (which I stashed in a corner and have not read, but plan to read cover to cover some day).  I got tips from fellow home brewers, sanitized all of my equipment, rounded up a few trusty assistants, and spent the day in the kitchen making my house smell like beer.  The brewing process took a few hours.  Lots of adding ingredients, boiling and waiting, then adding more ingredients, boiling and waiting, etc.  After a week, I siphoned the beer off into a glass carboy for a second fermentation.  Then in another week, I will bottle it, then wait another two weeks or so for it to carbonate. Then share it with my friends!  I hear bottling day is an adventure as well, so look for another blog post about that soon!

Malt Extract
AJ putting the grains into the grain bag
AJ and I waiting for the wort to boil between one of the 4 steps where we added hops
We ran a garden hose up to my 2nd floor apartment to chill the wort
My fancy wort chiller
Andy helping me strain the chilled wort as we pour it into the fermenting bucket
Testing the original gravity
Ready to ferment!
After a week, the beer was siphoned off into a glass carboy for a second fermentation
The siphoning leaves this gucky layer of dead yeast that looks like baby poo, but smells like delicious beer

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