My First Brew, by Trevor Olson
This article was sent to me by my daughter Jonica and her boyfriend Trevor, who is trying his hand at brewing his own beer...Just in time for St. Patrick's Day:
The first beer I remember drinking was a Stroh’s. I snuck it from my grandfather’s fridge before heading out to do some fishing. To me, it seemed, this was an essential part of growing up and fishing: Having a cold one. It has developed into a love and respect of brew, as well as the tradition behind it. Speaking of love, my girlfriend bought me my first ever brewing kit for Christmas this year…. Best. Gift. Ever. (Of course I’m speaking of my girlfriend)
Before I could start, I needed to do some learning. It’s amazing how technical it is to brew beer. I had instant nostalgia upon opening the kit, likening it to a childhood chemistry set. I was excited to say the least, but knew I needed to understand what I was doing to produce a good beer. The fact is, beer brewing takes time and effort, and who wants hours of work to go down the tube because you forgot to start the boil timer on time or messed up a hop addition? Two thumbs pointed at me, “Not this guy!”
Six weeks ago I brewed my first batch of beer. I started with an IPA, my favorite beer as of late. This particular IPA came with specialty grains, malt extract and hops, lots and lots of hops. This was not the easiest of beers to brew as a starter, but I wanted something I’d be proud to say, “That’s mine.”
The basic rundown of home brewing can be broken out into 3 stages: Brewing, Fermentation/Conditioning and Bottling/Conditioning.
Brew day was a blast! I was so excited to “play” with my new kit. First, you get the water heating up. (I got myself an outdoor propane burner to avoid making a huge mess in the kitchen, which I’m glad I did because it does get a little messy!) Once the water is starting to heat, you add in any specialty grains to steep before the water boils. This is essentially a large tea bag. You remove the steeping grains before the water starts to boil, right around 170 degrees, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, I turned down the heat to add my malt extract. The water is now wort. From there, you bring to a boil and start the timer for all the various hop additions. Once your boil is done, the goal is to cool the wort as fast as possible. There are two reasons for this. One is to avoid bacteria growth, brewing is about cleanliness and sanitization, you don’t want any “foreign” bacteria messing with the good stuff that will produce your beer! Second, once cooled to the proper temp, you pitch the yeast. Cap the carboy (pictured) with an airlock, and start the waiting game. (Bottle tree also shown drying sanitized bottles)