A few years ago I started brewing. Even before I started this blog, I was brewing. Not very well, and not regularly… but I was brewing nonetheless. It’s about time though, that I start writing about it! I hope you enjoy reading about some of my (mis)adventures while brewing. I bet that even if you don’t brew, you’ll find a few laughable tidbits or maybe, you’ll learn something and start brewing yourself.
My first brew was a kit IPA. These things come in a can, and basically all you have to do is mix the contents with water, add yeast and let it sit. It actually went really well. Even though Ash and I knew absolutely nothing about brewing, we gave it a shot and we had very decent, drinkable beer.
The next brew was also a kit: a nut brown ale. We did everything right: sterilised all the stuff, mixed the kit, added yeast, fermented for 3 weeks, bottled etc. but it came out horribly. I honestly thought it smelled like marmite and tasted like shit. I took a few bottles to the local chapter of my homebrew club, WortHogs, and got some feedback. I literally stood up and said: “I’ve brought a Nut Brown Ale, and I’m here to find out what went wrong with it.” The group laughed (not in a mocking way – we’ve all had bad brews) and I got the feedback I needed: it needed more sugar. Basically, sometimes kits are designed well and sometimes they’re not. This one wasn’t. It could have done with some extra grains to give it more body. That was my first drain pour. The plants loved it, I assure you. It was also the first time a style got banned in our house :-p
Since then, I decided that kits were rubbish and I wanted to go straight to all-grain. So I bought a Grainfather. That’s a pretty big leap – most people go from kits to stove set ups to 3 tier systems on gas. But I figured if we don’t basically get some sort of all-in-one setup, we’d never brew.
I went a step further and designed my own first recipe. Again, sane people normally start out with either all grain kits (where the recipe has been designed, you just do the work) or by finding recipes online. Not me. I love to bite off bigger chunks. Anyway – I brewed an Amber Ale. Things went well until the boil, where the filter came off. That was a bit scary but it went ok. After fermentation and a few weeks in the bottle, we tried some and it was… really sweet. Like dessert beer. Again, I took it to WortHogs and got some feedback. There were no infections or anything, but it was definitely too sweet. I’d clearly gone a bit overboard with the grain. This brew taught me about recipe building – since then I’ve never had too sweet a beer. I’ve had a beer that was too bitter (really, though), too light, too estery, off-style, on-style.. and I’ve had a few really great beers! I’ve brewed for Womens’ Day, for Brewcraft Saturday sessions, for WortHogs festivals, at Copperlake and I’ve brewed for myself. From those days of kits and bottles, we’ve now got a great keezer (freezer converted to dispense beer) with kegs (sometimes) filled with awesome beer.
Brewing really is all about experimentation. If you’re looking at starting, know this: not all your beer will be excellent. But it will be yours, and that’s pretty cool.
Check back regularly for updates, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned along the way as well as recipes I’m working on or have brewed.