Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Brewing Goals Part 2: Brews by Month

Jeff over at 1227 Brewing gave me this idea to lay out my Brewing Schedule. I live in a relatively small space in Downtown San Diego so the plan below is me brewing to capacity. My other restriction is that my wife is not a big fan of brewing, well mostly the mess it makes. We only have a small balcony so that means multiple trips in and out for water and supplies.
If you have any batch  ideas or tips for me, please leave a comment. And if you are planning on brewing anything similar I'd love to swap some beers.

Jan. 2011:
Old Ale – with treacle and Brett C and French Oak (Post on Brew Session)
1 gal batch – English Cider (Post on Brew Session)
1 gal batch – Old Ale with Avery 15 dregs (Post on Brew Session - in top 3 beers ever brewed)

Scottish 60 - (Post on Brew Session) (Post on Homebrew Tasting)
1 gal batch – Scottish 60- with Wood Experiments (not completed)
1 gal batch – Scottish Cider (Brewed, post to come)

Feb. 2011:
Scottish 80- (Replaced by Experimental Smoked IPA)
1 gal batch – Scottish 80- with Wood Experiments (Not brewed, see above)
1 gal batch - Winter Gose: Cranberries and Orange Peel (Post on Brew Session)

March 2011:
Wee Heavy - (Brewed, post to come)
1 gal batch – Wee Heavy with Wood Experiments (Replaced with Native Gruit)

April 2011:
Belgian Wit - (Skipped to Saison Series)
1 gal batch – Ommegang Biere de Mars dregs
Berliner Weiss - (Skipped to Saison Series)
1 gal batch – The Bruery Hottenroth dregs

May 2011:
Kentucky Common -  (Skipped to Saison Series)
Flanders Red - (Post on Brew Session)
1 gal batch – 1 year old Flander’s Red on Sour Cherries (Brewed, still in fermenter)

June 2011:
Table Saison - (Post on Brew Session) (Post on Homebrew Tasting)
1 gal batch – Fantome Dupont Foret dregs (Post on Brew Session)
BONUS - 1 gal batch - Table Saison w/ Ancho Chiles (Post on Brew Session)
1 gal batch - Summer Gose (Not Brewed)

July 2011:
Summer Saison - (Post on Brew Session) (Post on Homebrew Tasting)
1 gal batch – Dupont The Bruery Saison de Lente dregs (Post on Brew Session)
BONUS 1 gal batch - White Labs Brett C Saison (Post on Brew Session)
Dark Saison - (Post on Brew Session) (Post on Homebrew Tasting)
1 gal batch – The Bruery Saison de Lente or Rue Fantome Speciale dregs (Post on Brew Session)
August 2011:
Belgian Singel - (Replaced by Belgian Pale Ale) (Post on Homebrew Tasting)
1 gal batch – Belgain Singel with Mikkeller it’s Alive Belgian Pale Ale w Rochefort dregs (Post on Brew Session)
BONUS 1 gal batch - Belgian Pale Ale w Achouffe dregs (Post on Brew Session)

Sept. 2011:
Belgian Dubbel - (Post on Brew Session)
1 gal batch - Belgian Dubbel with fruit Westmalle dregs (Post on Brew Session)
BONUS 1 gal batch - Belgian Dubbel with Ommegang dregs (Post on Brew Session)
Homegrown Pale - (Only grew 1 oz wet - added to Mirror Pond Clone, post to come)
Belgian Dark Strong - (Post on Brew Session)
1 gal batch – Belgian Strong with Cuvee de Tomme Maredsous dregs (Post on Brew Session)

Oct 2011:
Best Bitter with Homegrown Hops Fullers Yeast - (Post on Brew Session)
1 gal batch – Brett Only Bitter
5 gal Split Batch - West Yorkshire Yeast(Post on Brew Session)

Nov 2011:
ESB - (Not Brewed)
English Dark Mild - (Brewed, post to come)
Oud Bruin - (Brewed, post to come)

1 gal batch – Oud Bruin with Holiday Party Dregs (Brewed, post to come)

Dec 2011:
Brown Ale (Not Brewed)
1 gal batch – Chai Brown (Not Brewed)
1 gal batch – Maple Brown (Not Brewed)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

2011 Brewing Goals Part 1: Get Weird

So I found this great research paper titled, FERMENTED FRUTIS AND VEGETABLES. A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE off a link from Raj Apte's site. I had some time to read this lengthy paper on one of my flights from back from the East Coast.
It does a great job describing several different fermentable foods and beverages from around the world. It also goes into detail how these foods are created. The most informative part of the paper is explaining how to control the 6 main fermentation variables which are moisture (available water), oxygen concentration, temperature, nutrients, pH and inhibitors. It explains how to adjust these factors in order to get the desirable microbes to work for you. (Chapter 2).

This got me to thinking about having some fun with experimental batches of different fermented beverages from around the world. For most of these beverages I think the journey will be more fun than the destination. And who knows I might find some flavors I like and develop some helpful techniques. I am going try my hardest to make the following beverages as authentic as possible. In San Diego, we have a great diversity of ethnic stores (this is where the real adventure will be).

1. Banana Beer - Diluted banana juice and grains fermented with natural yeast from banana
2. Cashew Wine - Light Yellow wine using the apples from a Cashew tree 6%-12% with wine yeast
3. Tepache - Prepared from maize with other fruits added and open fermented, drank young
4. Colonche - Fermenting juice of the Prickly pear cactus (see post about juice)
5. Date Wine - Dates soaked in Boiling hot water in clay pots
6. Palm Wine - Fermented sap from various varieties depending on region
7. Pulque - National drink of Mexico (my neighbor) using different varieties of the Century plant
8. Muratina - Fermented from sugar and the muratina fruit in Kenya (we are traveling there next year)
9. Chicha - Popular South American drink using different types maize depending on region (great article)
I cannot promise I'll make all these, but who really lives up to their New Year's resolution. Most of these I will get done this summer when the fruit is available. And the wife and I are traveling to Egypt and Kenya this coming fall so I'll be doing some research there.

12/29/11 Update - EPIC FAIL - I did not complete any of these strange brews. But they are still on my list to brew. Better luck in 2012.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Flandria Fixed Gear (Fixie) Conversion - Assembly

Assembly was much easier for this bike than in the past because I remembered to take a lot of pictures. And I kept each grouping of parts in their own bags so I don't get the small parts mixed up.

These older bikes have some great chrome and were easily cleaned. I used the Oxalic Acid (wood bleach in the hardware store) bath as I described in the Huffy Build.
The headset was pretty easy to install as long as you have everything in the right order. I'm liking the look of the raw steel, it gives the bike a nice vintage look.

My next goal was to cut the handlebars. I wanted to have a stripped down look to the bike. Plus there is no need to use the drop bars on a single speed. I'm using this bike strictly for cruising around downtown. I used a simple hacksaw and a vice. It gave me a pretty good cut and went through easily. I'm going to tape the ends so it doesn't need to be perfect.
This bike has a fixed cup bottom bracket. First, start with putting a healthy portion of grease in each cup and pressing in all the bearings. They should stick in there pretty firmly. Next make sure that you insert the spindle the correct way. See the picture below. There is one sire that is a bit longer than the other. This must go toward the crank side. Next, screw the cups on with a big adjustable wrench. That will not get it tight enough. And if you try you may ruin the wrench flats. The next part can be a pain unless you have some specific tools. There are three ways I know:
1. Buy the right tool from a shop.
2. Use a good vice and make sure the wrench flats are tightly secured. You need to keep the bike level or you will strip the flats. Do not over tighten, check to make sure the spindle turns freely but does not rock side to side. (My method)
3. You can make a Fixed Cup tool, described on Sheldon Brown's site.

The next tricky part is the cotter pin cranks. Refer to the original post for removal tips. To install push through and make sure to line up the flat side of the spindle with the flat side of the pin. Once in place give a nice firm tap with a hammer to set or use a press. Then screw on the cotter pin nut until tight. If the threads were damaged during removal you may be able to cut off the damaged part with a hacksaw and still have enough threads. The nut is not supposed to hold the crank on, the friction fit does that. It is just a safety measure so you your crank doesn't fall off. I also suggest after your first ride that you try to tight the cotter pin nut again.
 Next, I will be finishing the drive train. I asked for a 19 tooth fixed cog and chain for X Mas.

Step 1 - Background, Disassemble
Step 2 - Frame Painting
Step 3 - Handlebar & Fork Assembly
Step 4 - Gearing (Gear Ratio)
Step 5 - Wheels and Hubs
Step 6 - Custom Leather Saddle
Step 7 - Custom Leather Handlebars

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dreg Series: Brett C Brown Ale

I had received some yeast from a fellow QUAFF member, Adrian, and while I was there he gave me a few parting gifts. He gave me a couple 2 year old bottles of a Dark Beer Blend that were dosed with WLP645 Brett C. Both bottles got a dose of campden tablets to kill the Brett but that didn't work so one of them also was heat pasturized. Fast forward a year, we drank these two beers and  they were wonderfully sour and complex. Easily the best homebrewed beer I ever had. (More info on Babble Belt)

We tried these beers while brewing the English Dark Mild on Teach  Friend to Brew Day. I brought an extra 22 oz bomber and foil to pour the dregs into and then fresh Mild on top of. This starter came to life within a couple days. It had a big krausen inside the bottle.

Next I dumped the yeast into 1 gallon of the Party Pleasing Brown Ale (post to follow, I put the cart in front of the horse this time). And it took off within hours. And that thing also had a very large airy krausen with a good amount of particles suspended. I had to leave on business so there aren't any good pictures at full krausen. But you can see the aftermath.

F.G. 1.009
Taste of hydro sample had much more roast than version with WLP002. Very clean and no funk. Maybe a bit of tartness.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Session Beer Series: English Dark Mild 2010

I just remembered that I never wrote about the beer I brewed on Teach a Friend to Homebrew Day. That day I made sure that I brewed a beer that was pretty simple. And this one is hard to screw up. Plus it is probably one of my favorite styles to drink and with the Holidays coming up I know it's a crowd favorite. My mild is a touch on the roasty side. I will do a full on tasting coming up, but next year I think I will leave out the chocolate malt.

Recipe: English Dark Mild 2010
O.G.-1.042               F.G.-1.010                IBU-17.8
SRM-17                  ABV-4.1%               Cal-140

Grain Bill (75% Efficiency):
6 lb Maris Otter (76.2%)
1 lb Brown Malt (12.7%)
6 oz Carastan Dark (4.8%)
6 oz Crystal 120 (4.8%)
2 oz American Chocolate (1.6%)

.75 oz Goldings, 4.75%, pellet, 60 min 17.8 IBU

White Labs WLP002 British Ale

Brew Day:
Brewed: 8/14/10
Kegged: TBD

San Diego (Alvarado) Tap Water
1 campden tablet per 5 gal.

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 1.5 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 3 gal
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 152F @ 60min
Strike Temp: 164F
Batch Sparge Volume: 4.75 gal
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F

Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 6.25 gal
Boil Time: 60min
Post Boil Volume: 5 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.043
Ferment Temp: 66-first 3 days then free rise up to 70
Length: 14 days in primary
F.G.: 1.010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homemade Soft Pretzels

This was my first time trying to make soft pretzels so I basically followed Alton Brown's (Good Eats) directions to a tee. So all I have to add is my commentary (green) and some photos. For my next batch I'm going to try to replace some of the water with beer (duh).

•    1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
•    1 tablespoon sugar
•    2 teaspoons kosher salt
•    1 package active dry yeast
•    22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
•    2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
•    Vegetable oil, for pan
•    10 cups water
•    2/3 cup baking soda
•    1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
•    Pretzel salt

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top (Make a starter, could also use active beer here). Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil.
Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper (not needed with non-stick pans) and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. (This dough is very stretchy so it must be worked for a while and it works better if you get it very skinny down to less .5" diameter. Mine were a bit too thick)
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds (or once they start floating).
Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt (I used large sea salt). Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving (scarfing down).

Serve with homemade mustard (easy)...post to come.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Quick Sour Beers: Classic Gose

I am a huge fan of sours beers as you may tell from most of my posts. The tough part about these beers is the waiting. Which is one reason why I am making as many as I do. By about May of next year I'll have a new sour beer every month from my 1 gal experiments. In the mean while I want something with a decent turn around. And then I saw this post and that it sounded great (he also does a great job at explaining the style). I also really liked the idea that Cascade Brewing does by having a new Gose for each season. I figured I should start with the classic example (Stan Hieronymus explains "goes-a" well).
For this new beer I decided to do a 1 gallon batch so I can understand the technique before investing too much. Since this is only a gallon batch I thought it is also a great time to do some stove-top brewing. And that means brew-in-a-bag time and No Sparge.
Recipe: Classic Gose
O.G.-1.043?  F.G.-1.005   IBU-12.7
SRM-5  ABV-~2.5%?   Cal-120

Grain Bill (75% Efficiency-Missed it by a mile):
14 oz White Wheat Malt (56%)
10 oz Belgian Pilsner (40%)
1 oz Acid Malt (4%)
3 g Indian Coriander (added with 5 min in boil)
3 g Indian Sea Salt (added with 5 min in boil)

.1 oz US Goldings, 4.9%, pellet, 60 min 12.7 IBU

1/2 packet of Red Star Bread Yeast
 Brew Day:
Brewed: 11/9/10
Bottled: 11/21/10

San Diego (Alvarado) Filtered Water

Mash Details:
H2O/Grain Ratio: 3.8 qt/lb
Mash Volume: 4 gal
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 149F @ 60min
Strike Temp: 153F
Batch Sparge Volume: No Sparge

Sour Mash Details:
O.G.: 1.030
Sour Mash Temp: 115-120F (keep warm setting on Crock-Pot)
Length: 4 days
Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 1.2 gal (used sour gal + 22 oz bottled wort)
Boil Time: 60min
Post Boil Volume: ~1 gal

Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.030?
Ferment Temp: 70-75F
Length: 7 days in primary
F.G.: 1.005

I bottled this with 1 oz of corn sugar for the gal. shooting for just under 3 volumes. Since this was boiled and uses Sacc. yeast I am not concerned with bottle bombs. Yes, there is probably some lacto from the bread yeast but it probably won't produce CO2 and there was very little residual sugar anyways.

A few notes:
  • I think I lost way more efficiency than I expect with the brew in a bag and no sparge. So next time plan for that.
  • I tried a method that worked before that just involves running the wort from the mash tun straight into the fermenter. The max temperature the wort sees is 150 and therefore the lacto and other bugs should be ready to go. But it didn't seem to take off so I added some grain (which I will do in the future to ensure I get lacto). At no time did it form a layer on top but after 4 days the wort had a nice sourness but also a somewhat nasty rotted corn smell. Good thing this is getting boiled off.
  • The Crockpot worked great 
  • The hydro sample was nicely tart but didn't have much malt or other flavors to it. This is probably a result of the low starting gravity.

Tasting to Follow...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cider Series: Spiced Belgian with "House" Brett

So this beer got out of hand and not really on purpose. So as explained before I use 1 gal containers to do all my Dreg Series beers. And the cheapest way to get 1 gal glass jugs is with cider in it. At Henry's I noticed they had a new Santa Cruz Organic Cider. The jug was actually 3/4 gal and I figured that size might fit better in my brewing cabinet.

So the yeast I had at this time was WLP500 the Chimay strain (from my Trappist Series). I thought that this might be a great yeast for the clove notes you can get at the higher fermentation temperature range. I pitched about 50mL of the yeast. This beer was fermented in my brewing closet which is from 70 -75F.

This cider was fermented while I was out of town for a week. I noticed when I got back that the stopper was knocked off. At that time I didn't notice anything different with the beer. At this point I took a gravity reading and taste. Very dry down to 1.002 and just a bit of clove and fruity esters. Not as much character as I was hoping for.
I realized the holidays are coming up so lets really boost the spice. So I toasted 2 sticks cinnamon, 1 tsp all spice, 1 tsp cloves until they just start to smell. (As a sidenote this is a great way to instantly have the house smell like the holidays). A cup of cider was added and simmered for 15 minutes. This was cooled and added to the cider. And then....
Looks like we have a Brett infection. I guess it was just waiting for a bit of sugar and probably oxygen to become visible. There is hardly any sugar left in the cider so I didn't think that I would get much Brett character.
After a few weeks I decided to bottle this beer. I wasn't concerned with bottle bombs since there isn't much sugar left. I bottled using 5 oz fresh 1.050 cider. I calculated by assuming it takes me .7 oz of sugar to get 3 volumes in .75 gal of cider. Calculations:

.7oz/16oz = .04375 lb 

.04375 lb x (45 pts/1 lb) = 2 points

2 points x (1 gal/50pts) = .04 gal

.04 gal x (128 oz/1 gal) = 5.12 oz

I assumed that the cider will not be 100% ferementable like the sugar but it should be close because of the Brett. So this should end up very dry but I am a fan of sweetening once in the glass. (Just pour an once or two of fresh cider in your glass)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

SDBW: Tasting with Eric Salazar of New Belgium

San Diego Beer Week was amazing. I don't know where to start so I picked my favorite event. Plus this is educational.
On Thursday Nov. 11 at Blind Lady Ale House (or BLAH) they had a special flight of New Belgium beers (mostly sours). And for a select group we were guided through the beers by Eric Salazar (think Eric's Ale) who is a big player in the New Belgium sour beers. Eric has been working at NB for around 15 years. He is heavily involved in the Lips of Faith series. He had the chance to brew Eric's ale by winning a contest where 3 beers are blended and whoever can guess the beers and proportions gets to brew their beer (The Lips of Faith series started as a way to get all employees involved with brewing and that beer was served at the brewery, now it refers to their unique beers). On to the beers.

The Flight and my notes:

Trans-Atlantic Kriek - Boon's Oude Kriek (6.5%) that is 50/50 blended with their Strong Golden Lager (they seem to use this base beer often. By my calcs it is 9.5%. I think it is used to really build body in their beers). Eric explained that Frank Boon sends them an "oil tanker" of the beer. And they were instructed to feed the Golden Lager into the Kriek (Eric and I both can't figure out the reason)

Biere de Mars - I didn't get a lot about this beer but also wasn't to impressed. It only had a mild Brett character which is Brett L (according to Eric) and its added at bottling. After the fact I'm not sure how this works. How do they know how if they will have bottle bombs? And an issue we talked about later is that they don't want bugs to contaminat the bottling line.

Sahti - Interesting beer that I will have to try at home. They used juniper boughs in the mash tun which seems like a lot of fun. And it had a nice "gin" finish that I actually liked.

Belgo IPA - Not much to talk about here. They used 1 of their 2 house Belgian strands (the more clove forward strain) but that was hard to find under all the hops.

Eric's Ale - This beer starts as a Strong Golden Ale and then peach juice is added. In order to make sure that this beer is not too sweet a lager yeast is pitched. Once this ferments out then it is blended with Felix (more info below). My follow-up questions will include what type of peach and how much.

La Folie - The American Rodenbach. This beer is just a blend of Oscar (see below).

I tried to figure out how they approach sour brewing at NB. So from what I understand from my conversation with Eric. They started with the traditional bugs (lacto, pedio, brett) and pitched them into a bunch(lots) of barrels. And over the course of several years they got rid of the bad barrels and repitched more of the bugs from the good barrels (not sure how they control their ratios, like lacto getting out of control, more Qs). Eventually they moved up to using French Oak foudres. They now have 20 with 10 filled with Felix and 10 with Oscar. Oscar is their dark sour base (La Folie) and Felix is their pale base (Eric's Ale, Tart Lechee). Each of these foudres taste a bit different based on their location in the brewery. (This made me want to try the same wort and bugs but in different locations in my house). Supposedly foudre #3 is tasting really good right now. And once and a while you will here about a LOVE barrel. This is a single barrel or foudre that tastes great on its own. It can be Oscar or Felix. Some of the beers after they are blended are left to age in the barrel.

Mike, the Mad Fermentalist, wanted me to ask about how they package the beer now compared to pre Lips of Faith. So I asked Eric and he explained the main change has been do to the volume change. Since moving to a Lips of Faith series they now produce 300 hectoliters instead of 30 hectoliters. And this means that the beer needs to be bottled on their main bottling line. And that means it must be pasturized so as to not contaminate the rest of their beers. Before it was all hand corked! And this allowed the beer to be in a different part of the brewery and these bottles could take the added pressure over time. Good News. Eric said they should have a corking line soon.
Eric Salazar with the New Brew Thursday Cast in front of foudres 
Eric also mentioned to look out for their Collaboration with Allagash on a beer called Vrienden. For a good article and video. check it.

Eric was a very nice, down to earth guy that amused my questions. He actually turned a few questions back on me. And was very interested in what people are doing with homebrewing sours. I plan to follow up by sending him a few beers and a few questions I didn't think about at the time.
And Thanks Dan and Meagan for drinking with me and putting up with my nerding out.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Undercover San Luis Obispo: Limekiln State Park

So this trip isn't actually in San Luis Obispo County (it's Monterey) but Limekiln State Park is definitely a great day trip or better a stop along your way up to Big Sur. Actually there is a great campground that is state run so you could make a nice weekend of it. Reservations can be difficult during the summer, as is expected for the whole coastline from SLO to Monterey. Its a two hour drive outside of SLO but the drive is worth it.

Here is a great overview picture (careful that website is addicting) and map.

The main hike at this park is not very long but it is gorgeous and perfect for a picnic. If crossing over small wooden bridges in a dense Redwood forest sounds good to you then this is your hike. And if you are lucky enough to go on a weekday in the spring or fall we might even have this trail to yourself. I would call this a stroll much more than a hike.

And it should be taken slowly and with your eyes looking everywhere. There is a lot to be discovered especially after a rain. But don't go off the trail and ruin this environment.

The hike dead ends at the namesake of the park, the giant Lime Kilns. Here is a brief history from the State Park website, "Quarried limestone was “kilned” (smelted) in four huge wood-fired kilns. The product—powdered lime—was packed into barrels which were then attached to cable that was strung from the canyon wall down to the beach and some 50 yards out into the Pacific Ocean. Schooners slipped into tiny Rockland Cove, as the landing was known, and loaded the lime. The lime, a primary ingredient in cement, was used to construct buildings in Monterey and San Francisco."

Monday, November 8, 2010

Learn to Brew Day - 2010

This past Saturday was Learn to Brew Day - started by the American Homebrewers Association (AHA)
I enjoy bringing people into my homebrewing hobby. It is always funny to have people ask you about homebrewing and give you their impression. A majority of the time it is not a good impression. It is usually a story about an uncle who used make beer with bread yeast or a friend in college that tried to make alcohol before he was 21. It is always nice to hand them one of your beers and see their face light up with surprise. I have a difficult time with this because it is usually at a party and I only have a one or maybe two varieties. And usually one variety was an experimental batch I had fun with and the other is probably a style they don't know or don't like. As I am typing I realize that I need to create the universal beer (probably a super balanced beer, Amber Ale?). Then I always bring this type when I go to a party where I know there may be converts.
Well, my beers have had at least a small impact. I have had several friends want to learn. Home brewing is a tough thing to jump into because it does have a bit of an initial investment in money and space. This seems to be the place that many get stopped. So here is a summary of what I tell them:
You can buy online and probably the best place and is MoreBeer (In the So Cal Region)
Go into a homebrew store, the prices are a bit more but you can ask all the questions you want (but you can also call me). A few of these places even put on free classes on the weekend.
Look on Craigslist for once used starter kits. This is a great way to get stuff at half price but you do need to make sure that everything is in good shape and well cleaned.

The next big decision is how serious you want to get when starting out. Here are the basics you are going to need:
  • 1 - pot big enough to boil at least 4 gals, the bigger the better (7 gal is ideal). (You may have this already)
  • 1 - fermentation vessel - either a plastic bucket (cheap, only lasts about 5-6 batches), plastic "carboy" (medium price, harder to clean) or a glass "carboy" (expensive,breakable, but will last for ever)
  • Stopper and Airlock (allows CO2 out, prevents air in during fermentation)
  • Sanitizer
  • Hydrometer (measures amount of sugar before and after to figure out alcohol strength)
  • Racking tube (gets beer out of fermenter and into Bottling Bucket)
  • Bottling Bucket w Spigot
  • Bottle Filler
  • Capper
  • Bottle Caps
  • Brown bottles - 48 - 12 oz or 24 - 22 oz (I don't buy bottles new, they cost the same with beer in them, you just have to soak the bottles for a week and remove labels or you can start fresh with new bottles. Bigger bottles less time filling but more you have to drink in one sitting)
  • Beer Ingredients
 This year I brewed with some good friends of mine. This was to be their second batch and I was there just to observe and answer questions if need be. I also packed up my brew equipment and brewed a batch of all grain beer on the front patio. We had a couple others come over that were interested in the brewing process and drinking some homebrew. I think the plant is seeded with them.
It is always helpful to brew with others around because they ask questions and make you think through your process more. I think I will try to do this event annually. And remember the more people who learn the better chance for good beer.
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