For a novice beer brewer like me, a kit is the way to go. You get all the ingredients you need to make the beer pre-measured so that there is less room for error. You also get a nice set of instructions that for the most part are easy to read and understand...from what I hear. I have to be honest. Greg (a person that I am so unbelievably lucky to have found and who loves to do all the same crazy experiments that I do but that is a whole other blog post) did all of the reading. In fact, I think he probably read the instructions at least a dozen times. But basically you get the kit and round up all the other tools and supplies needed for brewing beer. I was lucky enough to borrow everything I needed from my parents. My mom is an expert wine maker. After you've sanitized everything that will come into contact with the wort (fancy name for beer before it ferments) you basically do the following.
1.)heat 2.5 gal water to 160 degrees in large ass pot
2.)put giant tea bag full of barley mash and steep for a while
3.) remove baggie of soggy, smelly malted barley. Place on counter and forget about until you finally manage to get it to the compost bin (maybe next week)
4.) bring pot to boil for a while
5.)add malt extract (thick smelly syrup)
6.)boil for a really long time
7.) get bored, go play farmville or read some blogs
8.) add bittering hops
9.) boil for a long time
10.) fit in a work out on the elliptical and complain loudly while doing so if you are lucky enough to have someone watch the pot for you
11.) add aromatic hops
12.) boil for 20 more minutes
13.) drink a beer you already have in the fridge because beer sounds really good right about now
14.) worry what the neighbors will think about the strong smell that is wafting from your apartment which is reminiscent of moldy alfalfa pellets and a frat house
15.) cool pot to 60 degrees in a sink full of cold water and ice cubes. It is at this time that your thermometer will stop working right and you will get super-irritated because the beer making process is already taking much longer than expected. You might think its cool enough at 61.9 degrees.
16.) siphon or pour the cooled wort into a 5 gal carboy.
17.) add 2.5 (or in our case maybe two because the rest didn't fit into the container) of cold water
18.) sprinkle and mix in 1 pre-measured package of brewers yeast.
20.) place fermenting cork thingy on the carboy, stare at it for a few minutes and then shrug and question whether or not you did it right and whether it will turn out okay. 20.) go directly to bed. do not pass go. do not collect 200 dollars.
|Greg about to drop the barley mash in the pot. Isn't he handsome?|
|Soaking the mash, looks like tea|
|adding the dry malt|
|siphoning the beer into a carboy to be fermented. tired.|
|5 gal of home brew. Waiting for the magic to happen.|
I make it sound hard but it wasn't too bad. It just took a long long long long time. We started the process around 6 pm. and we finished at 11 pm. It really helped that Greg had read the directions completely and was prepared to move on to the next step when the previous one was done. I am a "read the directions as you go" kind of girl which I don't recommend being when you are doing a project like this. I am really excited about trying it. Might have to throw a little beer tasting party after its bottled and ready to drink.
The next step is waiting a few days and check to see if air is bubbling in the fermenting cap thingy. Then we know its working. After that we siphon it off into another carboy and do some other stuff to it in two weeks (can't remember what at this point) and then transfer it to another carboy and do some other stuff to it for another two weeks. And then something else two weeks later. It will be ready to bottle in 6 weeks. And ready to drink a few weeks after that. I will try to keep the process updated on the blog so we can see the progress.