It’s been a long but successful day of brewing. I brewed ten gallons of what I hope will be a close approximation of Paulaner Hefeweizen – a funky, cloudy Bavarian beer made with a special yeast that gives it a distinctive taste – kind of banana-y, clovey, and even bubble-gummy. It’s a refreshing beer to drink on one of the warm days that are fast approaching.
I also kegged about 8 gallons of what I call my “regular” beer. It doesn’t fit any style and will therefore never win any awards, but it’s my attempt at brewing a house beer. It’s probably closest to an American Ale, but I dial back a bit on the hops – I just want an easy-drinking beer that adventurous friends might enjoy. While I love beer like Two Hearted Ale, it’s a little much for regular imbibing.
For those who don’t homebrew, let me give you a quick overview. You take around 22 pounds of malted grains (wheat and barley today, normally just barley), and let it stew in around 7 or 8 gallons of 150 degree water for around 60 minutes (today actually included an additional 30 minutes at 120 degrees, but I don’t want to get too technical). Then you drain the water from the grain, and you rinse the grain with more hot water, ending up with around 12 gallons of beer juice, called wort. You then boil that for around an hour (90 minutes today), adding hops along the way (you buy them at the homebrew store, along with the grain). After the boil, you cool it to around 70 degrees, put it into 2 big glass jars called carboys, and add special yeast. After a week or two, you put it into kegs or bottles, and then you can drink it after another week or two.
Now, you’re probably wondering why in the heck you would go through all this work, when you can just go down to one of the many great stores around that sell great beer.
For me, it’s the challenge and the ability to make something truly outstanding. I’ve made my fair share of bad beer, but I’ve also made some that I think are better than anything you could buy in a store. Fresh beer, made with care and good ingredients, is pretty outstanding stuff.
The time and attention it takes to convert a bunch of starch, water and yeast into a great beer is staggering, but it’s all worthwhile when a friend asks for another, or when I pour myself a home-made Mocha Porter before sitting down to blog.