Monday, January 31, 2011

How to Brew Ch. 1 Part 1 Breakdown

Let's make this easy.....I'm not going to break down every sentence that this guy writes because this is called a blog, not a book. I'm basically going to go over some important information that I found to be helpful for a guy who has never brewed an ounce of beer on his own. The closest I've ever been to brewing my own beer is when it "brews" in my kidneys. First few pages of the book break down minimum essentials that you will need when brewing. Most of these come in a kit but I'm going to break them down here.

Brewing Essentials
  1. Airlock - 2 types - single bubbler or 3 piece. Single is the better option for ease. 3 piece can allow water back into the fermenter.
  2. Boiling Pot - 3 gal. minimum - aluminum is best
  3. Can opener
  4. plastic wrap
  5. foil
  6. stirring spoon
  7. sanitizer - iodophor, starson, final step
  8. fermenter - 6 gallon food grade plastic, I'm going to go with a 6 gallon glass carboy
  9. glass measuring cup - quart
  10. thermometer - 80 deg. F - 180 deg. F - floating dairy thermometer or LCD
  11. Hydrometer - measures specific gravity between water and water with sugar. Gauges progress of fermentation by measuring attenuation.
    • attenuation - degree of conversion of sugar to ethanol by the yeast
I'm going to skip over specific gravity of typical beer. Basically you need to know the original gravity of beer is between 1.035 - 1.060. Final gravity ends up around 1.015 - 1.005. Alpha acid unit is a unit of measurement that you will probably need to know.

AAU is the unit of measure for hops. You find it by multiplying alpha acid rating of the hop (% value) by weight in ounces.

Example: 2 oz. of 6% alpha acid hop = 12 AAU's

Sooooo I have 4 pages of notes on Ch. 1. I don't wanna overwhelm everyone too early so I'll go over brewing procedure as well as malts and sugars in the next post.

1st Impressions Mean Everything

Jotted down a few quick thoughts before I left work today. I wanted to accomplish 3 main goals when going to the Porterhouse Brew Shop.
  1. Sign up for the brewing class on February 26th 
  2. Meet the owner and introduce myself
  3. Get some quick tips on kits and prices
I'm not going to lie, I'm looking for a good kit. Not some BS kit you brew root beer with. I talking a full blown, manly brew kit. I'm not 100% sure what is going to go down with my first brew session, but it doesn't matter. I always play buy the "you get what you pay for" technique. UNLESS you find a killer sale at a major department store, right? No not really because those killer deals were made in some country where it costs $0.04 to manufacture. And you thought $4.00 was a steal............Morale of the story, buy a good kit damn it.
So after a long day at work I got to finally check out the Porterhouse Brew Shop. The place reminds you of a general store from the early 1800's, it's awesome. I walked in and was greeted by Beth and her husband. Didn't get her husband's name because he was chasing down their toddler through the store. The store is all wood shelves and has a true old school vibe. I told Beth I found them on the internet and wanted to sign up for the class. She said I was lucky because they only had 1 seat left. I pre-paid right there to ensure I had a seat. Josh asked me via text this week "do they have classes all the time?" Well they do have classes once a month until May. After May they have a long break until September. Beth and I talked about the book I'm currently reading: "How to Brew". She said that it is a great book and has a lot of good technical info that can be easily understood. I wanted to check out some brew kits and see what they were working with. Beth said they were currently sold out for the first time in the existence of the shop. They can't keep them on the shelves. She said they have a bunch coming in for the weekend but they are coming from Maine so she couldn't guarantee anything. It didn't really matter to me at this point, I wasn't going to make a purchase today anyway. I really want to take the class first and wrap my head around what is really going on. After scoping out all of the awesome brewness they had, I told Beth I'd catch up with her on the 26th. In the meantime she said to call with any questions I had on the book or on brewing. They don't make em' like Beth anymore.
Side note: There is 1.5 beers left in my fridge from North Country Brew. I will need to get that in a glass ASAP before I review Ch. 1-3 of the book.

Drinking it is the best part....Right?

About a month or so ago I decided that I wanted to start brewing my own beer. There's just something really exciting to me about creating my own beer. I'd say it's the entrepreneur inside me that wants to own his own microbrewery, as well as the satisfaction of taking that first taste of something you created. So, instead of just talking about it, I went out and started to do some research on home brewing. Sure, Amanda's family brews their own beer in California, and I could easily contact them for advice and troubleshooting. That's too easy. I want to blaze this trail the old fashioned way (Oregon Trail Style). I want to do the research, talk to people, go to classes, buy a kit, and then brew my first lot of beer. I mean c'mon, I love to talk to people and pick their brains about why the do the things they do. I want to know why they used a certain ingredient over another. Why they boiled the wort for 5 minutes longer. Where they let their beer ferment, and at what temperature. These are things I want to find out myself and then put my own spin on them. Isn't that how most people do it? (Zuckerberg, Gates, Trump). Usually me and my friends sit around, on a porch or around a fire, and talk about ideas, places, trips, and goals. You'll more than likely find a few adult beverages being enjoyed on the porch or at the fire. Our biggest character flaw, as a group, is we never really act upon any of these great ideas for one reason or another. The underlying reason 99.9% of the time is because we do not have the money to pursue an idea. Another underlying theme to most of the ideas we have is they all center around owning and working our own bar/restaurant. Even in high school we used to brainstorm about the bar theme, specials, locations, and names. Every last detail was discussed from the color of the walls, to the style of the bar, and even the jobs we would all hold at the establishment. Each of us had a unique skill that would benefit the business in a positive manner that none of the other members had. Josh (logistics, buying), Eric (finance, money), Russ (F&B manager), myself (marketing, sales). Our girlfriends would be the bartenders, and we even had Jordan to fly the plane with promotional signs. Wait, I almost forgot, Josh C. could play a tune and we would play live music on the weekends. Everything is perfect, right? Well, everyone put this idea in the back seat and went to pursue their career out of school. Well 4 short years later everyone has realized they don't want to work for the man. We want our own place, with our beer, our food, our rules, our customers, and our quality. I don't know when this dream will happen, but I know it will. It may take investors, luck, the lottery, who knows...but it will happen. A wise man once told me, "I'd rather make less money to do something I love, than make more money and never be truly happy." Sure, money buys big houses, nice cars, and a hell of a swimming pool, but if you work 100 hours a week to obtain them, you never get to see them. At this point in time, you may ask yourself "What the hell does this have to do with brewing?" EVERYTHING....This is the story behind why I want to brew my own beer. Drinking it isn't the best part to me, it's the dream behind the drink. It's the story of the flavors and aroma that makes the beer taste so good. It's the hard work put behind the curtains so people can enjoy what you've created. So this will be my blog of how I go from chemical and environmental marketing to microbrewer/pub owner. It may take awhile, but the journey is the fun part. I'll be updating the blog with everything I learn, everything I read, recipes, random thoughts, and reviews on what I brew. At the end of each post I'll give a little preview of what's to come next. We call that a cliff hanger or a teaser. So here it goes!!!!!

Next Post:
Chapter 1 - 3 Review of How to Brew by John Palmer
My experience at Porterhouse Brew Shop