|Is That a Shoe in There??!!|
I brewed my first batch of home beer over the weekend. It was a move that had been coming for quite a while now: a solid number of craft beer festivals attended; an opened, but unused and much thought about Christmas present -- namely, a basic home brewing kit; a mid-January home brewing class in Palm Beach; and finally, the all-in commitment: a brewpot, kegging kit, and a malt extract recipe kit. Belgian White, to be exact -- think Hoegaarden or Blue Moon if you're not sufficiently versed in the myriad of beer styles. So Sunday was brew day at the farlieonfootie Corporate Headquarters.Brewing didn’t come easy. It was, in fact, more difficult in some ways than I originally imagined. First off, the cleaning and sterilizing: it’s been said by many a brewer that the most important part of making beer is to make certain you have a clean and sterile environment. Given Correspondent Ed’s habit of turning his mostly eaten yogurt cups into ashtrays for the butts of his half-smoked cigarillos, and then leaving same to “decorate” random spots around the office, this “clean and sterile” environment took longer than you might think to achieve.
After lots of washing (cleaning) and sterilizing – which, I learned, are two very different things – I was ready. Three gallons of high test Fort Lauderdale water were boiled to 155 degrees, and base grains – wheat in this case – were added to the pot and boiled for about a half an hour. The pot was then taken off the boil while a liquid malt extract was stirred into the mix. After the pot had been brought back to a boil, bittering hops were added, and steeped for around an hour – in much the same way that you might steep a bag of tea.
In the final chaotic ten minutes, a combination of spices (coriander and sour orange) were added, before a final handful of hop was thrown in – appropriately called the aroma hop, for the smell and final flavor it provides. The entire pot was then taken off the burner and plunked down into a bathtub of ice – rapidly cooling what was now known as “wort” to a temperature at which it could begin to ferment. The final step in the process was to “pitch” some yeast into the wort, and let it do its work – namely, the magical process by which sugar turns into alcohol, all done in a closed environment, with only a small vent to let out the escaping gas.
How’d it turn out you ask? Who knows – I have literally no idea at this point. It could be a total drain pour, or it could set me on my way to a new underground career as a brewer-in-training. The jury's still out, though: the beer won’t be finished fermenting for nearly a week, and then it will likely undergo a second fermentation before being kegged and carbonated -- and hopefully enjoyed.
I’ll get into that at a later date, as well as report back on the really important stuff – how it all tastes. In the meantime, I’m searching for names.... Given that it’s a Belgian style I brewed, I’m thinking about the name of a certain transfer target of Manchester United. A glass of Hazard Warning, anyone?This is farlieonfootie for May 24.