Learn to Homebrew Day! November 2, 2013

This Saturday is Learn to Homebrew Day!   Break out your mash tuns and boil kettles and brew something good, invite a friend to join you and pass on the joy of homebrewing.

You can find more info on the American Homebrewers Association website and also look for events in your area.

While you’re at the site, if you’re not already an AHA member, consider joining up.  It’s only $38.00/yr to join, but that’s going up to $43.00 next year.  Your membership gets you a subscription to Zymurgy magazine, a ton of online resources and also many breweries, brewpubs and LHBS offer member discounts, plus other benefits.  (I’m not affiliated with AHA, other than being a member, I just think it’s a great organization.)

Learn to Homebrew Day 2013

Learn to Homebrew Day 2013

Small-scale beer. Brewing a 1-gallon batch.

We typically brew 5 gallon batches but I thought it might be fun to do a smaller batch to experiment some.  I don’t want to do something too crazy in a 5-gallon batch and not have it come out but 1 gallon brews let us experiment without too much time and money invested.  Maybe this is a good way for Brian to try out his Black Cardamom Saffron Lavender Agave Stout?

Jalapeno Saison 1 Gallon Beer Kit

Jalapeno Saison 1 Gallon Beer Kit

Rather than create a recipe for this one I picked up a kit from Amazon for a Jalapeno Saison from Brooklyn Brew Shop.  Since we already had all the brewing gear I just got the ingredient kit, however they do have a full kit that includes the 1 gallon jug, airlock, thermometer, etc.  At only $40.00 it’s not a bad way to try out homebrewing.  Instructions don’t come in the kit but can be downloaded from the Brooklyn Brew Shop website.  You may need a couple of additional ingredients, for mine I needed a fresh jalapeno and agave syrup.  In addition to the kit you only need a few basic items to brew this beer.  A couple stainless or aluminum pots around 3 gallons in size, a large fine-mesh strainer, spoons and some sanitizer.  At bottling time you’ll need bottles and caps, a siphon/racking cane and priming sugar.

Mashing the grains.

Mashing the grains.

Annnd, sparging the grains.

Annnd, sparging the grains.

I won’t go into extensive details here as they are pretty well lined out on the instruction sheets from Brooklyn Brew Shop.  All together the brew day took me about 2 hours and I was able to watch a couple episodes of Breaking Bad while I brewed.  Yeah, I’m a bit behind on the series but I’m getting there.  The process is very simple with this kit.  Heat your strike water and mash in the same pot, drain the mash through your strainer into a second pot and then fly sparge the grains.  Boil for 60 minutes adding hops, jalapenos, agave and Belgian candi sugar along the way.  I didn’t want too much heat in mine so I removed the seeds and veins from my pepper before adding it.  If done properly, pepper beers are amazing.  The best one I’ve tried is No Label Don Jalapeno, the brewery is out of Texas and if you can get this one I suggest trying it out.  After the boil you cool the wort and strain into your jug.  Cap it and shake it like a crying baby… I mean a Polaroid picture… and then pitch the yeast and add the airlock and blowoff tube.  Voila.

In the jug and ready to ferment.

In the jug and ready to ferment.

And now we wait.  After a couple days the fermentation should calm down, mine was rocking in less than 12 hours.  When it slows down I’ll move it to a dark place and leave it alone for 2 weeks before bottling.  Then 2 more weeks before sampling the brew.

All in all I had fun with this kit and I’ll likely do a small batch again.   It helped feed my need to brew without the need to break out all the gear and dedicate a full day to brewing.  I was able to do this in the evening after work and still make bedtime.  Gotta love it.  This would also be a good way to brew if you’re in an apartment and wanted to try an all-grain brew.  Of course all this assumes that the beer is delicious when all is said and done, fingers crossed!

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We Made More Mead!

Due to the overwhelming popularity of our Pirate Pancake Syrup we decided to make some more mead this weekend.  I hate to admit it but I think PPS was probably the best thing we’ve made so far, that was some good mead.  It was also very “Limited Edition” since we only made 1 gallon.  So we’re hoarding it like crazy, we gotta stretch these few bottles out at least 4 months until the next batch is done.  I’m not making any promises that’s going to happen.

We also decided to whip up a 1 gallon batch of Acerglyn, a honey-maple mead.  We don’t know what the hell we’re doing here, but that’s never stopped us before, so we used 44 oz of honey, 12 oz of Maple sizzurp and a vanilla bean and pitched some wine yeast on it.  Further reading on the subject of mead making shows a lot of people add some acid blend to their meads to help balance the mead and give it crispness or tannins to increase body.   I’m going to leave this one as is and see what we get out of it.

In Goes the Honey

In goes the honey…

Pirate Pancake Syrup V2 and Acerglyn

Pirate Pancake Syrup V2 and Acerglyn

Don’t worry though, we haven’t abandoned beer!  We also brewed a batch of a top secret pale ale we’re calling Codename: Ohio, we’ll share more info on that one later.  Our fresh hop Simcoe IPA is coming along nicely as well and I just added 4 oz of hops to the carboy to dry hop for 5 days.  That bad boy will go in bottles or a keg this weekend.  MMmmm… hops.

This beer totally got Simcoed.

This beer totally got Simcoed.